Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 18, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Accident statistics show teen drivers as unsafe
  • Accident statistics show senior drivers to be unsafe
  • Based on statistics, senior drivers are worse than teen drivers

From teenage drivers to elderly drivers, we all want to save some money on our car insurance rates. But who is the worst driver on the road, your teenager or your grandma? Age and gender impact car insurance rates more than you think!

We aim to settle the score once and for all. Check out our head-to-head match-up below to find the worst group of drivers on the road today.

Then be sure to enter your ZIP code in above to compare FREE online quotes for car insurance!

Table of Contents

Teens vs Seniors

You hear it a lot. In fact, you hear it so often it’s practically an article of faith. Teens are terrible drivers.

And if you look at the data, it’s true, to a point.  Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death among 15 to 20-year-olds, for example.

Young men, especially, are more likely to speed, get in wrecks, and kill themselves. And everyone agrees, it’s because of experience. Teens just don’t have enough of it, especially with driver’s ed programs being cut across the nation.

Then again, if you focus on your grandma, that nice old lady making the apple pies and fussing over your health might well be an absolute terror behind the wheel.

For all the jokes about grandma driving slow, the reality is, seniors can be extremely dangerous on the road.

With the help of some statistics, let’s take a look and see who precisely needs to get off the road.

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Gender

There’s just no way to slice this — if you’re a guy, you’re twice as likely to get killed on the road, no matter how old you are.

That’s not opinion. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has all the numbers they need to back it up.

It doesn’t matter how old she is, a woman is just less likely to do the kind of dumb things guys love to do in cars, which include:

  • Drag racing
  • Driving aggressively
  • Generally acting stupid

So, in other words, ease up off the gas, champ. Even if the cops won’t pull you over, that ten miles an hour over the limit you’re going isn’t doing you any favors.

Especially since studies have found that teenagers tend to pick up their parents’ bad habits.

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Danger To Self

Even a quick look at the numbers tells us something important: experience doesn’t mean anything once you get old enough.

Teenagers and the elderly drive roughly the same amount, but the older the elderly get, the higher their fatality rate gets.

Drivers 75 to 84 years old have the same fatality rate as teenagers; once they hit the magic 85, their fatality rate skyrockets to four times that of teenagers.

However, 65- to 75-year-olds don’t have much to brag about either; their fatality rate is second only to teenagers.

While teenagers are easily distracted by cellphones and friends two major causes of crashes many elderly drivers just don’t have the capacity to drive, and it’s reflected in the numbers.

Still, teenagers are the most dangerous to themselves; the more teens in a vehicle, the higher the crash risk gets. Teenagers are also involved in more single-vehicle crashes than any other age group.

However, crashes are more dangerous to seniors, and they get hit more often. Seniors are good about using their safety belts, and, unlike teenagers, they’re a lot less likely to be intoxicated.

But they also find themselves getting injured more often. Seniors are just more fragile than teenagers.

Danger To Others

On the other hand, Grandma is far more likely to kill you. And it’s not because she’s speeding down the road, either. It’s because she just can’t get out of everyone’s way.

Seventy-five percent of accidents involving seniors involve another vehicle.

Too much speed can kill, but not enough isn’t good for you, either.

Basically, everything that could kill somebody else, seniors do it and in numbers that are scary.

Seventeen percent of pedestrian fatalities are the fault of seniors. Seniors account for 28 percent of accidents involving a left turn.

Most teenagers get into accidents at night; seniors tend to avoid nighttime driving, so the majority of their accidents are during the day on weekdays.

So, who’s more dangerous? We think seniors. Here’s why…

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There Are More of Them on the Road … And They’re Growing in Number Every Day

There were ten million teenage drivers in 2000. Sound like a lot?

There were 26.5 million drivers 65 and over in 2000…and by 2030, the number of people 85 and older on the road alone will number nearly 10 million.

In fact, it’s believed that once the Baby Boomers all turn 65, they’ll make the teens look like pikers in the fatalities department. If the data holds, they’ll be responsible for 25 percent of all traffic fatalities.

There Are More Laws To Keep Teenagers In Line, and They’re Working

We’ve been studying teen driving habits for years, and we know what keeps them from being safe.

Graduated licensing, which limits teenagers to driving at certain times of day and with only so many passengers, is being introduced in more and more jurisdictions.

Graduated licensing has reduced teen fatalities by up to 30 percent in some areas.

But elderly drivers are entirely different. Many of them are already trying to drive safely, avoiding difficult road conditions and distractions.

They’re well aware of their limits, and saddling them with a “senior license” doesn’t seem workable.

The CDC is working on senior driving tests, but right now, most driver’s licenses are just renewed, without your having to take a road test, or even showing up in person.

Teenagers Don’t Need Cars Nearly As Much As Seniors Do

Your average teenager doesn’t live or die based on their car.

They usually live with parents who can drive them, and there are transportation systems like school buses to get them to school.

Seniors, on the other hand, may be living alone or with an incapacitated spouse, on limited incomes.

Especially in rural areas, taking away their cars is essentially trapping them in their homes.

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What Can You Do To Help?

If there’s a senior in your life, talk to them about their driving and how they feel. Try taking a ride with them and gauge how comfortable they are on the road.

Look for signs of problems like squinting, uncertain driving, or excessive checking of their surroundings.

If you’re worried, talk to them.

As for your teenager, keep them off the road at night, and don’t let them transport their friends until they’ve had some experience.

Also, set a good example: don’t speed, hang up your phone, and be a good driver.

It’ll do them some good to see a good role model on the road, and do you some good by making it less likely to be a statistic yourself.

Remember, safety starts with each one of us. If we all do our part, we can keep the roads just that much safer.

Why not put your car safety to good use and see how much money you might be able to save on your car insurance?

Enter your ZIP code in right now to compare FREE quotes online!