State motor vehicle laws and older drivers. uri icon


  • After teenage males, elderly individuals have the highest per capita motor vehicle fatality rate in the United States. Surprisingly, there has been only limited work examining the effect of state motor vehicle laws on older driver fatalities. This paper uses state-level data from the 1985-2000 Fatality Analysis Reporting System to examine the effects of changes in state laws dealing with license renewal, seatbelt use, speed limits, and driving while intoxicated on fatalities among drivers and others aged 65 and over. Negative binomial regressions are estimated using alternatively state and year fixed effects, or age and year fixed effects. In-person license renewal reduced fatalities among the oldest drivers, but vision tests, road tests and the length of the license renewal cycle generally did not. In terms of policies that apply to all drivers, seatbelt laws, particularly with primary enforcement, were generally the only policies that reduced older driver fatalities. These results are noteworthy because a number of policies that have been effective towards increasing younger driver safety are not relevant for older drivers, implying that policymakers must think broadly about using state laws to improve older driver safety.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Morrisey, M. A., & Grabowski, D. C.

citation count

  • 40