Car Rental for Seniors

Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 06:54 PM
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Re: accidents among older drivers
Google the Census Bureau Statistical Abstract for transportation. Data for 2009 was the latest I could find. I will attempt to summarize but you can check my numbers on their table.

For all accidents, the rates range from 4 per 100 to 23 per 100. The accidents are skewed heavily toward the younger drivers, with 23 accidents per 100 at age 16 and gradually decreasing to 15 per 100 at age 20. There’s no surprise here. Rates continue to decline in all groups after age 20 (except for a "blip" to 17 at age 23), reaching 7 accidents per 100 at ages 45-54, 5 at 55-64, and 4 at 65-74. For drivers aged 75 and over, it remains at the lowest rate, 4 accidents per 100 drivers. This is ½ the rate of 8 accidents per 100 for all drivers and less than ¼ the rate for 23-year-olds. This low rate of accidents among older drivers can be accounted for, I have read, in large part because older drivers know their limitations and are less likely to drive after dark, on expressways, etc., if they feel uncomfortable doing so.

Fatal accidents are another story. The fatal accident rate averages from a high of 42 fatal accidents per 100,000 for 18-year-olds, 36 per 100,000 for ages 20-24 and decreases thereafter until it reaches a low of 18 fatal accidents per 100,000 for the 55-64 and 65-74 age groups. At 75 years and older, the fatality rate increases to 28, but it is still lower than the average of 36 for ages 20-24 and not much higher than the 24 for ages 25-34. So much for those quick reflexes of the young.

So while fatal accidents increase for drivers 75 and older, total accidents remain in the lowest category – at half the rate for drivers aged 35-44. Since the 75 and older category probably includes a cohort of up to 20 years, we might also make a good guess that drivers over, say age 88, might skew the numbers upward and that 80-year-old drivers are, on the whole, not too much worse than the 55 to 74-year-olds with the lowest fatality rate of all drivers. The increase in fatalities in older drivers could be accounted for in part by the fact that they are in more fragile health and less likely to survive an accident.

I rather doubt that older drivers who are circumspect about their driving ability at home and going to rent a car in Europe and suddenly start driving 110 mph on the autobahn.

As to the argument that “older” drivers (often meaning “slower”) “cause” other people to have accidents, I’m just not going there. People may have accidents because of slower drivers if their impatience causes them to do stupid and risky things, but the other driver doesn’t cause the accident. I admit to being a little lead-footed on limited access highways when the traffic isn’t too heavy, the weather and road conditions are good, and I’m not aware of a likely police presence. (Not super fast, just around 10 mph over.) I also admit to being frustrated many times by slower drivers when I want to speed a little, but my frustration hasn’t manifested itself in stupidity – tail-gating, lane weaving, etc. I just clench my jaw and mumble profanities and wait for a safe opportunity to rectify the situation.

These data are US. Maybe older drivers in other countries are responsible for more than their fair share of accidents. But you'll have to show me the data.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 07:21 PM
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Nukesafe, you may not be able to drive one day. I may not be able to drive one day. But not purely because of an arbitrary number but because we can't see or hear well enough, become demented and can't remember how to drive, or can't find our way home. But I hope it won't be too soon. (I want to be able to see, hear, and be relatively compos mentis for more reasons than just driving.)

That said, I do believe older people should probably be tested more often and am appalled that in my state we have been renewing by mail for years if we haven't had an accident. My last license (good for 8 years) was renewed by mail once for a total of about 16 years without even a DMV eye exam. My current one will be good until I'm 73 and I imagine, if I'm not in an accident, they will renew it by mail until I'm 81. I do think that after you reach a certain age, you should have an occasional eye exam and demonstrate that you are at least able to walk. (I think you should have an eye exam every few years even if you're younger. I've known several people whose eyesight gradually deteriorated to the point that they were not quite legal to drive without their realizing it.)
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Polly, your profile does not say where in Florida you live, or I would come give you a big kiss. Your data, rather than Christina's prejudice against us greysters, makes me feel very good about my chances of being independent for a number of years yet.

I drove a taxi in San Francisco (stick shift) for a number of years while going to college, and have only had two fender benders in my driving career. I also drove a municipal bus for a time when I flunked my first retirement. I am still a good driver, but I can tell that my reflexes and situational awareness is not as razor sharp as it used to be.

Still, I don't think I will drive in Europe again, just because it is too much hassle, and there are so many things I have not seen that are reachable by public transport.

Sorry to the other posters for hijacking the thread -- back to the topic: I was able to rent a car in Scotland when I was 76, and another in France when I was 79. Had to search companies a bit a bit, but it is possible. Perhaps those companies I found had access to Polly's data.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 02:41 AM
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Don't apologize, that was a great hijack
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 04:06 AM
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I rented in Greece in 2011 and I was only 76. Plus France twice, Germany once and Portugal once after 70. No problem.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 07:42 AM
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Whatever age, just know your limits. After driving 40+ years (and still loving it!) I know that as I get older (not in any of the age brackets we're talkin.g about here!) my reflexes are not as great as they were when I was 16, and my eye sight gets progressively worse. I'm not comfortable anymore driving at night except locally.

When driving in France, on the highway, I follow the rules of staying to the right and using the left lanes just to pass. Otherwise, you end up with someone tailgating and flashing their lights behind you.

Have change out and ready for toll roads -- someone in the passenger seat should help the driver find the right change.

Also look out for drivers with "A" stickers on their cars. Like the "L" stickers in England, the "A" denotes the driver is a learner or "Apprenti" -- I think it's called. These drivers are kind of scary on round-abouts!!!

One of the hardest things for me to get into my brain when driving in France is that, unlike California, you are not permitted to make a right turn on a red light.

Pedestrians DO have the right of way in designated (striped) cross-walks.

Learning the rules of the road before you go and what the signs mean help a lot.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 03:00 PM
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I do recall that in Ireland DH had to bring along a doctor's statement that he is well and able to drive. However, the rental agency didn't want to see it. LOL Just recently back from Spain and Portugal with no problem renting (he was 80 at the time). He is an excellent driver, in good health, and thankfully has all his faculties. We're off soon to Germany, Austria, back through UK, and Autoeurope had no problem getting us rent cars.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 03:47 PM
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The post about "older" people being incompetent drivers is amusing to say the least.

When we bought our Fort Lauderdale condo last year I figured the reason that insurance rates are higher in Florida than they are in Northern Virginia is due to all those "old" people like myself. And then I drove my Vette to Fort Lauderdale for the winter. The stretch of speedway 95 beginning around Jupiter opened my eyes to the real reason insurance rates are high down there and it has little to do with "old" people.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 09:14 AM
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I saw that this was an older thread but still a very popular discussion among friends looking to rent a car in Europe on both ends of the age spectrum.
It is indeed unfortunate that drivers might be discriminated against based on age, but age limits are incurred at each car rental company's discretion.

The specific restrictions WILL vary by individual rental company in given countries, so you'll have to check to be sure, but there are general trends among different countries. Ireland, for example, is one place where you'll have to be more careful than others since age restrictions and insurance policies are generally more strict than elsewhere.

IN GENERAL, most companies won't have a maximum age limit, but you can bet on having to pay extra young driver surcharges if you are under 25.
ColtonJ is offline  
Old May 18th, 2015, 09:18 AM
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Checking with the specific rental company is always the most sure-fire way to get the facts, but a good resource for doing preliminary research on rental age limits in your destination can be found here:
ColtonJ is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2015, 03:42 PM
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I was just on the auto Europe site looking for a car for Sicily, and I noted that it said additional charges may apply to those under 25 and over 69.
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Old Sep 21st, 2015, 04:52 PM
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Try as thy do not ask for age.

P.S. I'm only 80.
iris1745 is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2015, 11:01 PM
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I noted that it said additional charges may apply to those under 25 and over 69

This may depend on the local agency. You can always proceed with the contract and then decline it at no cost if you do not like it; autoeurope allows this until 72 hours before pick-up time.
Michael is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 12:19 AM
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Have enjoyed reading through this thread. Spouse is now over 70 and we have found some companies charging more to rent OR what they will do is put a much larger deposit/hold on your credit card used.

Oddly enough, they don't seem to care about the "second driver"'s age and we've lucked out on a couple of rentals where a second driver was included as part of the we just make me the primary driver even though I had no intention of really driving; problem solved.

This most recent rental in Germany was a first time for asking us if we intended to cross any borders (yes, we planned on going into France)and for that there was a (insurance, I think) surcharge...that was a first.
klondike is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 11:13 AM
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Be careful with that - it may invalidate your coverage if the primary driver isn't actually the main driver.
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