Auto Insurance

Which States Are the Most Dangerous for Senior Drivers?

Which States Are the Most Dangerous for Senior Drivers?

Seniors' increased sensitivity to injuries means they face a higher risk of being involved in a fatal car crash when they get behind the wheel. In fact, in a recent year, drivers who were 65 or older experienced over 4,000 fatalities. Below, we outline the top 10 states where senior drivers are most likely to be involved in a fatal car accident.
Most Dangerous States for Senior Drivers
Most Dangerous States for Senior Drivers Source: Getty Images

The Top 10 Most Dangerous States for Senior Drivers

1. Mississippi

22.83 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Thirty-five states have a larger senior population than Mississippi by percentage. Despite this, Mississippi ranks as the deadliest state for senior drivers based on data from a 2018 report by TRIP, a national transportation research group. The most recent year of data indicates that there were 92 senior drivers killed in car accidents in the state of Mississippi. The number of deaths among senior drivers in car accidents has risen by 18% over a four-year period.

2. Kentucky

18.86 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

According to data from the Kentucky State Police, the largest human contributing factors to car accidents in the state are inattentive drivers and failure to maintain control of a vehicle. The two account for 28% of the human factors at play in car accidents in Kentucky. Other leading factors include failure to yield and misjudging a clearance.

3. Kansas

18.78 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Many states, including Kansas, have enacted laws that create special provisions for seniors who wish to obtain a driver's license. In Kansas, all drivers must renew their licenses in person every six years. When renewing a license, drivers are required to pass a vision test or submit proof of a recent eye exam. However, drivers who are 65 or older must renew their licenses and meet the vision requirements every four years.

4. Idaho

17.58 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

According to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), there is a traffic crash in the state every 20.8 minutes. Furthermore, there is a fatality as a result of a traffic crash every 34.6 hours. Unfortunately, in 2016, only 35% of people who died in motor vehicle crashes in Idaho were wearing seat belts. The ITD estimates that of the 65% of drivers who went unbelted, more than half of them could have been saved by wearing a seat belt.

5. Georgia

17.02 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

The state of Georgia is home to about 1.2 million licensed drivers who are at least 65 years of age. It also is one of 13 states that had triple-digit fatalities of senior drivers in the most recent year for which data is available. The data indicates that the number of licensed senior drivers has increased by 22% since 2012, while the number of fatalities among senior drivers has increased by 49% over the same period. Georgia has experienced an increase of 3.09 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers since 2012.

6. Missouri

16.37 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Missouri ranks as the sixth-deadliest state for senior drivers. In Missouri, the largest contributing factors leading to fatal crashes involve: speeding, substance impairment and improper lane usage. In fact, 23% of traffic fatalities in Missouri involved a driver who was impaired due to substance use.

7. Oklahoma

15.11 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Oklahoma, unlike many other states, doesn't place special provisions on older drivers. Whether you're 40 or 80, you're required to renew your license every four years. Furthermore, drivers renewing their licenses aren't required to provide proof of adequate vision. License renewal fees are reduced at age 62 and completely waived at age 65.

8. Tennessee

14.58 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol recently partnered with local law enforcement to enforce traffic citations for distracted driving. Last year, the crackdown resulted in a total of 905 traffic citations in Tennessee. This year, officers handed out 1,816 citations.

9. Nebraska

13.99 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Distracted driving, alcohol and speeding are some of the leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes in Nebraska. In recent years, the number of distracted driving crashes in the state has increased by approximately 20%. The state ranks as the ninth most dangerous state for senior drivers.

10. West Virginia

13.53 fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers

Despite being in the top 10 most dangerous states for senior drivers, West Virginia has experienced vast improvement. According to a report produced by the West Virginia Governor's Highway Safety Program, total traffic fatalities in West Virginia are down 34% since 2006. Serious traffic injuries have also been on the decline, with an 80% drop since 2008.

Which States Have Experienced the Greatest Changes Since 2012?

Top 5 Most Improved States

The states listed below saw the largest decreases in fatalities per 100,000 licensed senior drivers. The most improved state was North Dakota, which experienced a decrease in fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers of approximately 41%.

% Change in Fatalities Per 100,000 Licensed Senior Drivers Since 2012
1North Dakota-41%
2New Hampshire-35%
3 (tie)West Virginia-31%
3 (tie)New York-31%
5New Mexico-30%
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Top 5 Most Concerning States

The states listed below saw the largest increases in fatalities to senior drivers in terms of percentage. Two of the most concerning states currently rank in the top 10 most dangerous states for senior drivers: Idaho and Missouri.

% Change in Fatalities Per 100,000 Licensed Senior Drivers Since 2012
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In Which States Are Senior Drivers Most at Risk of Being in a Fatal Car Accident?

Based on our study, states that rank as some of the most dangerous for senior drivers are concentrated in the southern U.S. Below, we display a map highlighting the states with the highest percentages of senior drivers who suffered fatalities due to a traffic accident. A darker shade represents a higher percentage of deaths.

States Where Senior Drivers Are Most Likely to Be in a Fatal Crash

How Does Age Impact Drivers?

As people age, driving becomes increasingly dangerous. As a result, seniors who want to get behind the wheel are restricted by several factors.

Higher Auto Insurance Rates: As drivers age, they will typically receive more expensive auto insurance rates. For instance, when comparing quotes between a 75-year-old and a 35-year-old man, we found that the former received an annual rate that costs 23% more. That is because older drivers are involved in more accidents than middle-aged drivers. However, there are several ways senior drivers can mitigate an increase in insurance rates, including asking for senior discounts or by shopping around for a better priced insurance policy.

Unsafe Driver Designation While anyone can be reported for unsafe driving, senior drivers with medical conditions are vulnerable to confidential reporting standards that states have put in place. In some states, like Florida, the target of the report is typically required to undergo a medical review and is asked to submit medical information to the licensing department. The department then makes a recommendation based on many factors including the medical information submitted. The recommendation could include requiring the driver to re-take a driving exam or revoking their license.

Restrictive Licensing Procedures: As previously mentioned, several states make it more difficult for people to obtain a driver's license as they get older. Some states impose shorter renewal periods after a certain age, while others require renewals to be made in person and for the driver to pass a vision test.

National Rankings of the Most Dangerous States for Seniors Drivers

Number of Fatalities of Drivers 65 or Older in 2016
Fatalities Per 100,000 Licensed Senior Drivers
% Change Since 2012
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We examined the total number of senior driver fatalities as reported by TRIP, a nonprofit research organization. The figures were compared to the number of licensed drivers who are 65 years or older in each state. To calculate the most improved states and the most concerning states, we compared data from 2016 to that of 2012. The state rankings are based solely on 2016 senior fatality figures reported by TRIP.