Most people like to think that they are good, if not excellent, drivers. As we all know, however, our own opinion of our driving abilities is less important than our actual driving abilities. But although our own sense of our driving skills matters little from the standpoint of actual safety, there may be some factors that correlate more strongly to driving ability.

One factor that can impact a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle is age. Most of us take it for granted that older drivers are more likely to get into accidents, and the reasons for this, we think, are fairly obvious. Many of us would probably not be comfortable with the idea of elderly drivers being responsible for transporting crowds of people to and from school or work every day. 

The fact that some quite elderly drivers are licensed to operate school buses would naturally cause the average person some concern, given the responsibility these motorists have for the safety of children. In the state of Massachusetts, there are reportedly 42 licensed bus drivers currently in their 80s.

As it turns out, though, age isn’t an infallible indicator of driving ability. More accurate, say researchers, are factors pertaining to functional status, such as vision, as well as cognitive and motor abilities. These are things which can vary among elderly individuals, sometimes to a striking degree. Researchers also say that driving records are a better indicator of driving fitness than age.

That being said, older drivers are not exempt from liability for motor vehicle accidents and injuries they cause simply because their driving abilities have declined. Each and every driver on the road has a responsibility to exercise reasonable caution in operating a vehicle, and failure to do so opens drivers up to liability, regardless of their age.

Source: New Telegram, “For school bus safety, regulators say driver ability is more relevant than age,” Donna Boynton, Dec. 22, 2014.