Are older drivers safer?

Older people also tend to drive more in built-up areas Photo: PA

The notion that more elderly motorists are killed in crashes than younger ones because they are poorer drivers is largely a misconception, experts have said.

Although high numbers of senior citizens die in road accidents, this is because they are less likely to survive serious injury than younger people, rather than because they crash more frequently, the Canadian Medical Association Journal said.

Older people also tend to drive more in built-up areas with many junctions where the crash rate is higher.

Dr Ezra Hauer, professor emeritus of the department of civil engineering at the University of Toronto, said: "Frailty as a cause of over-representation should not be confused with the ability to drive safely.

"For these reasons, a larger proportion of seniors' crashes end up in the official statistics. This too contributes to the appearance of over-representation and has nothing to do with the ability to drive safely."

In Canada more than four fifths of those killed in accidents involving motorists aged 85 or older are the drivers themselves, he said.

Dr Hauer added: "Unlike younger drivers, older drivers are a danger mainly to themselves."