Insurance rates typically go down as young adults mature. According to the Insurance Information Institute, people 55 years or older are less likely to drive aggressively or too fast. That’s the reason that most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers over 55. Still, older drivers are said to be more likely to have impaired hearing and slower reflexes, or to be using prescription drugs that might slow their reaction time.
Reports out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst come to the same conclusion: Elderly drivers are more prone to side-impact crashes. According to UMass, many drivers over age 70 realize that their reaction time is slower, so they naturally compensate by driving more carefully, says Matthew Romoser, who studies age-related physical and cognitive function and driving skills at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The problem, according to his latest research, is that many older drivers don't realize that danger is coming at them sideways, not from head-on as they assumed.
For his recent doctoral dissertation, Romoser's study at the university's Human Performance Laboratory found that drivers 70 to 89 years old can best learn to use more side-to-side glances when executing turns at intersections when they practice adding more side glances in a hands-on driving simulator, compared to hearing a lecture.
Many insurers—Esurance, being one—use their Web sites to offer tips to elderly drivers. According to Esurance, as a group, drivers 75 and older have one of the highest rates of fatal daytime accidents. The insurer attributes this to senior drivers who don’t realize their driving abilities had gradually become impaired over the years. In many states, the insurer offers an auto insurance discount for senior drivers if a person meets a given age criteria and has taken an approved mature driver safety course.
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