Older workers who drive as part of their job have a significantly higher fatality rate as a result of motor vehicle collisions than younger workers.
A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted workers 65 and older are three times more likely to die in motor vehicle collisions than workers aged 18 to 54. The risk for older drivers begins to increase at 55, and then increases much more at 65 and older.
According to the CDC report, more than 11,500 workers aged 18 and over died while driving for work between 2003 and 2010. Among these deaths, 26.9 percent were among those aged 55 and older. The traffic death rate varied with race and ethnicity, with the highest rates among older American Indian/Alaskan Native drivers, more than four times that of younger drivers. The traffic death rate for older white and black drivers was three times that of younger drivers, while Hispanic drivers aged 65 and older the death rate was twice that of younger drivers.
The risk is not restricted to workers employed in typical transportation occupations, such as drivers of tractor-trailers or delivery trucks. The risk cuts across all industries and occupations. Workers in transportation and warehousing accounted for a third of the deaths. The traffic death rate was highest for all age groups in that category, but highest (21.2 percent) for those aged 65 and older, the report noted. By occupation, the rates were highest among those working in transportation and material moving. These jobs accounted for 50 percent of all the deaths, with workers aged 65 and older accounting for 22.9 percent of deaths.
Most deaths were caused in collisions between vehicles, and 48 percent of these deaths were of drivers aged 65 and older. Among those aged 65 and older, 23 percent of the accidents happened while driving a car, 22 percent while driving a tractor trailer and 15 percent while driving a pickup truck. Drivers over 65 accounted for 9 percent of the deaths involving off-road or industrial vehicles, compared with 2 percent for younger workers.
The report was published Aug. 23 in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.