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Too often, auto accidents happen when we least expect. But frequently, accidents are also caused by those we least expect to see behind the wheel.

According to Consumer Reports, 14 million Americans were, in one way or another, involved in auto accidents last year that were caused by senior drivers. The official report shows that impacted drivers were mostly between the ages of 18 and 64, but those more likely to be involved in the accidents were 18- to 29-year-olds. Most of the drivers who were to blame were 65 or older.

While senior drivers may be involved in a large number of crashes, their fatality rates are usually very low. For drivers who are older than 65, driving during the day and avoiding busy areas is part of their routine. Because of their self-regulating nature, they are much less likely to being involved in deadly crashes.

Recent surveys have shown that senior drivers are quick to admit they believe they pose dangers to others when they are behind the wheel. But to younger drivers, teen drivers, drivers who are intoxicated or distracted are a far greater threat than drivers who are older. To seniors, older drivers represent a greater threat than drivers who had too much to drink.

Some of the other discoveries made by recent surveys may help us understand why so many older drivers continue to drive despite the accident risks.

According to Consumer Reports, people under 65 are simply not comfortable with telling their parents they should stop driving. At least 40 percent of the respondents say they are more at ease talking about funeral arrangements than asking them to stop driving. Twenty-nine percent of younger drivers say they believe doctors should be the ones determining and then letting older drivers know it’s time to leave the car in the garage. Other 23 percent claim local governments, through the department of motor vehicles, should be the ones telling older drivers they should not be driving. According to the survey, 16 percent of the respondents who were younger than 65 said seniors should be the ones making this decision for themselves.

Seniors, on the other hand, prefer to hear from their family when it’s time for them to stop driving. With one third saying family members should determine when it’s the best time for them to retire their car keys, older drivers appear to want the exact opposite of what younger drivers want to do. Also, 26 percent of older drivers believe they should make the decision to stop driving on their own. One in five senior drivers claimed they would leave the decision up to their doctors or caretakers, and a meager 10 percent claimed they would be glad to allow the government to make this decision.

To those who believe seniors may be exposing other drivers to accident risks, consider talking to them if you have one in your family or click here to read more tips on how to address this issue to avoid more accidents.

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