October 01, 2013
The U.S. population aged 65 and older is estimated to increase from 47 million in 2015 to 72 million in 2030,* meaning more senior drivers will be on the roads. This also means that more adult children may need to have difficult conversations with their aging parents about driving. However, a new survey released today by Liberty Mutual Insurance reports a significant gap between the number of baby boomer children of senior drivers concerned about their parents’ driving abilities (55 percent) and the number who are actually having conversations with their parents about the issue (23 percent). Further, 29 percent of boomer children say they are likely to avoid the conversation entirely.
“Nine in 10 boomer children of senior drivers think it is important to have driving conversations with their aging parents, but few are taking action - thus, not addressing potential safety risks on the roads,” said David Melton, driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety. “Earlier and more frequent conversations about senior driving are essential. If people take away one lesson from this study, it is to have this conversation with your loved ones – and have it soon.”
The Liberty Mutual Insurance survey of more than 1,000 boomer children of senior drivers indicates that they are more concerned about their aging parents’ driving (59 percent) than they are about family members driving under the influence (43 percent).
Boomer children cite the following as top concerns associated with their senior parents’ driving:
- Poor eyesight: 47 percent
- Drives too slow: 38 percent
- Poor hearing: 30 percent
- Drives distracted: 25 percent
Less than half (38 percent) of boomer children of senior drivers think that their parents will understand and be open to a discussion about giving up driving. Most of the boomer children fear the outcome will be negative, predicting the following reactions:
- 46 percent think their parents will be angry or hurt
- 31 percent think their parents will say it is too hard to find other modes of transportation
- 22 percent think their parents will be more determined to keep driving
Tips for Approaching the Driving Conversation
Boomers’ concerns about senior driving are valid, with 17 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities happening to older individuals, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2011, 5,401 people aged 65 and older were killed and 185,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
“Aging is an inevitable occurrence that has several implications,” added Melton. “It’s important that we recognize that age can bring changes that impact one’s driving abilities. Each individual situation is unique, which is why Liberty Mutual Insurance encourages boomer children to talk openly with their parents about driving.”
Liberty Mutual Insurance offers tips and resources for talking to senior loved ones about driving, including:
- Take a ride with your parents and observe their driving. Watch their awareness of their driving environment. Do they have slow reaction times? Are there dents, close calls, tickets or warnings?
- Discuss the topic early and have realistic expectations, as it is likely that the matter will not be resolved with the first discussion.
- Look into alternate transportation solutions and be prepared to discuss options
There are a number of options to help senior drivers maintain a responsible level of mobility and independence. Liberty Mutual Insurance is proud to partner with ITNAmerica, the first and only national nonprofit network for America’s aging population, which promotes sustainable, community-based transportation solutions for seniors. Through caring volunteers from the local community, ITNAmerica provides rides for seniors in private automobiles 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Today’s older Americans are among the most active and community-engaged seniors in our nation’s history, and mobility and independence are essential to preserve those great qualities,” said Katherine Freund, founder and president of ITNAmerica. “Liberty Mutual Insurance’s findings further strengthen the need for families to have the conversation with seniors, as well as provide more alternative transportation resources to help them make responsible driving decisions.”
For additional information, visit www.LibertyMutual.com/seniordriving.
*Source: 2012 U.S. Census Data
About the Liberty Mutual Insurance Senior Driving Survey
Ketchum Global Research & Analytics designed and analyzed this countrywide phone survey (with 5 percent cell sample) of 1,007 adults ages 40 to 65 with at least one living parent who drives (boomer children of senior drivers). Braun Research fielded the survey from May 14 to May 20, 2013 and the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.01 percent.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance
"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2012 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 81st on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2012 revenue. The company employs over 50,000 people in approximately 900 offices throughout the world.
The sixth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance and annuity products. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.
Liberty Mutual Insurance