Drivers of a certain age often get a bad rap. But surprising study by AAA out today is challenging the conventional thinking about elderly drivers.
Bill Wallace, 85, has been driving since the 1940s. He says he'll continue to slip into the driver's seat as long as his health allows.
"I've been blessed with some good health," he says. "I don't want to cause an accident and I don't want to be in one either."
One in six cars on the road is now being driven by someone age 65 or older. Despite a reputation for being slow and collision-prone, a new study by AAA has found just the opposite. Ninety percent of seniors say they haven't had an accident or even a moving violation in the past two years.
And they've heeded the warnings not to talk on their cellphones while driving. Thirty-four percent of those 75 and older say they've done it. That's compared with 82 percent of drivers age 25-39.
"Older drivers tend to wear their seat belts more often. They tend to drink and drive less, and so they tend to be general safer drivers," said Jurek Grabowski, AAA's research director. "When they do have a perceived inability to drive, they tend to self-regulate."
Which may explain why 76 percent of them favor health screenings for older drivers, and 74 percent believe older drivers should have to renew their license in person.
Billie Bucksbarg, 92 (she'll be 93 next month), still drives to work most weekdays. She says she feels great behind the wheel "or I wouldn't be behind it."
Accident rates among the elderly have been falling for years. There were 31 percent fewer fatalities in 2012 than in 1997.