Empirical StudiesBy S. Lafont, Catherine Gabaude, L. Paire-Ficout, C. Fabrigoule
The objective of the study was to estimate the potential risks associated with older drivers compared to younger drivers, especially in driving situations that are more sensitive to age-related issues. The study population comprised the road users involved in injury crashes recorded by police forces in France between 1996?and?2005, where at least one car was involved. Four categories of driving situations in which drivers were present just before the crash have been defined. The risks to be involved in a fatal crash in these four categories of driving situations have been estimated according to driver age. Then, the rates of lost life years for drivers and for the other involved users have been estimated in each of these driving situations. Compared to drivers aged 25 to 64?years old, drivers aged 75?years old and over have an increased risk of 16.7 (CI 95%?=?15.1-18.5) of being involved in a fatal crash in lane-crossing or left-turn situations, rather than being involved in another crash. However, the rate of lost life years for the other crash-involved road users significantly decreases when driver?s age increases in all driving situations. Older drivers lose mainly their own life years in these crashes due to their increased frailty. Older drivers represent a lesser threat to others compared to younger drivers, even in complex driving situations. As a public health issue, it is therefore important to develop strategies to protect older drivers when crossing lanes or turning left across traffic. Informing road users of all ages on the risks for others and about age-related issues which can affect driving abilities would appear to be useful perspectives to consider.