At the same time, older drivers are putting more miles on the odometer than they used to, although they’re still driving fewer miles a year than middle-aged drivers. This is especially true for drivers 75 and older, who lifted their average annual mileage by more than 50 percent from 1995 to 2008.
“The fact that older drivers increased their average mileage ... may indicate that they are remaining physically and mentally comfortable with driving tasks,” the institute said. When older drivers reduce the number of trips they take, it’s often because they sense their driving skills are eroding. They compensate by driving less at night, during rush hour, in bad weather or over long distances.
By 2050, the number of people in the U.S. age 70 and older is expected to reach 64 million, or about 16 percent of the population. In 2012, there were 29 million people in the U.S. age 70 and over, or 9 percent of the population.
“The main point is that these 70-80 year olds are really different than their predecessors,” said Alan Pisarski, author of the authoritative “Commuting in America” series of reports on driving trends. “They learned to drive in a very different era. They are far more comfortable driving in freeway situations. This matters immensely for the future because we are seeing dramatic increases in older workers staying in the labor force and continuing to work and commute well past 65.”
AARP, the association that represents older Americans, said the report “dispels common misconceptions and reveals positive trends related to older drivers.”