Client Groups

Senior Drivers – Did You Know?

Statistics disprove some of the preconceptions about drivers aged 65 or older. Here are a few.

Drivers aged 65 or older are proportionaly less likely to be involved in traffic accidents

In 2020, 1,244,706 driver's licence holders were aged 65 or older, that is, 22% of all driver's licence holders. However, they only represented 12% of drivers involved in accidents resulting in bodily injuries.

Numbers to prove it

From 2016 to 2020, each year, on average:

  • 88 drivers aged 65 or older were involved in fatal accidents, representing 16% of all drivers involved in this type of accident
  • 207 drivers aged 65 or older were involved in accidents resulting in serious injuries, representing 12% of all drivers involved in this type of accident
  • 4,814 drivers aged 65 or older were involved in accidents resulting in minor injuries, representing 12% of all drivers involved in this type of accident

To compare, in 2020, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 were involved in 19% of accidents resulting in bodily injuries even though they only represent 8% of driver's licence holders.

Accidents among drivers aged 65 or older

Drivers aged 65 or older are proportionally involved in fewer accidents resulting in bodily injuries than all driver's licence holders. A significant proportion of accidents involving senior drivers occur at intersections in urban areas. 

However, in the event of an accident, people aged 65 or older are more likely to sustain fatal injuries or be left with significant impairment, given their greater physiological vulnerability.

Inattention

Normal aging leads to a decreased ability to remain concentrated and pay divided attention to several stimuli. Thus, 43% of fatal accidents and 61% of accidents that result in injuries and involving older drivers are due to inattention or distraction. 

Medication and alcohol

Using several medications is on the rise and closely associated with aging. Seven percent of people between the ages of 15 and 24 take more than one medication, and this proportion increases to 70% in those aged between 65 and 79. Moreover, 25% of people in that age group use more than ten types of medication. In Québec, this figure is 33%. The simultaneous use of many medications, or the combination of medication and alcohol, even in small quantities, considerably increases risks to road safety. Over-the-counter medication is no exception.

Aging also decreases one’s tolerance to alcohol. The same quantity consumed will have greater effects on the faculties necessary for driving.

Eyesight is important!

The vast majority of the information that a driver needs to drive safely passes through the eyes.

Among seniors, there is:

  • a longer adaptation period following changes in brightness
  • decreased sensitivity to contrast
  • decreased eyesight

Significant increase in the number of senior drivers

From 2016 to 2020, the number of driver's licence holders aged 65 or older increased by 19%, compared to 3% for all driver's licence holders.

Today, drivers aged 65 or older represent nearly 1.2 million drivers out of the 5.5 million Québec drivers.

The number of driver's licence holders aged 65 or older should reach 1.5 million in 2030, since onequarter of the Québec population will be in that age category.

Traffic accidents involving senior drivers don't always occur when we expect them

Accidents involving senior drivers generally occur in favourable driving conditions – during the daytime, in good weather, and on dry pavement that is in good condition. These are the conditions in which seniors are most likely to drive.

Your car can be adapted!

If you have a disability, an occupational therapist can help you compensate for certain physical limitations by recommending that you have your vehicle adapted. This may include the installation of:

  • a steering wheel spinner
  • an accelerator pedal on the left

For more information, visit our section entitled Adapting or Purchasing a Vehicle.

Last update: June 25, 2021