Age, gender major factors in severity of auto-accident injuries

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Understanding the differences among drivers in different gender and age categories is crucial to preventing serious injuries, said researchers in a new study showing stark statistical differences in traffic-accident injuries depending on the gender and age of drivers.

The new findings are especially important because the number of drivers 65 and older is expected to double by 2030 in the United States to 70 million, said Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University and the study's co-author. National statistics show that fatalities rose by 7 percent for drivers 75 and older from 1981 to 2000, remained steady for drivers from 65-74, but dropped for younger drivers.

"It is reasonably well known that age and gender have an effect on the likelihood of an accident, but the influence that age and gender have on driver injuries once an accident has occurred is not well understood," Mannering said.

The Purdue researchers found statistically significant differences in the severity of injuries suffered in accidents involving men and women drivers and drivers within three age groups: young drivers, 16-24; middle-aged drivers, 25-64; and older drivers, 65 and above.

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"Because the factors that affect how severely you are going to be injured vary depending on your age and gender, a better understanding of age and gender differences can lead to improvements in vehicle and highway design to minimize driver injury severity," Mannering said. "What is clear is that safety research and policy must begin to seriously address gender- and age-related matters because there are compelling differences and considerable potential to improve safety if these differences are properly addressed."

Findings were detailed in a paper published last year in the Journal of Safety Research. The paper was written by Purdue doctoral student Samantha Islam and Mannering.

The researchers used mathematical models to calculate various probabilities using data from one-vehicle accidents in Indiana.

The study included findings showing that:

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