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Road traffic: Record number of accidents involving seniors

Road traffic: Record number of accidents involving seniors
Last year, more seniors had accidents in road traffic between January and September than ever since Statistics Austria began digital recordings in 1992.
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Older people are a risk group in road traffic. The figures published by Statistics Austria on Wednesday prove that this statement is not discrimination based on age, but rather a sad fact. The Federal Institute has been carrying out digital recording since 1992; never before have so many seniors had accidents on Austria’s roads as in the previous year from January to September. 4,992 people over 65 were injured and 90 were even killed during this period. A total of 34,724 people had accidents in road traffic in the first three quarters of 2023, which represents an increase of 2.1 percent in the comparable period of 2022.

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Over the first three quarters of the past ten years, the number of accidents on Austria’s roads fell by seven percent, but the number of injured or killed senior citizens increased sharply in the same period, with an increase of 22 percent, says Statistics Austria’s general director Tobias Thomas.

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Frequent priority violations

From January to September 2023, one in seven people involved in an accident was over 65 years old – there were a total of 27,804 accidents with 34,408 people injured and 316 people killed. Lower Austria leads the negative peak in the federal state evaluation with 6,543 injured and 73 fatal accidents.

The older age group is often hit particularly hard in incidents, as the Director General of Statistics Austria reports: A quarter of the seniors involved in accidents were seriously injured or killed. Among younger people, this proportion was significantly lower at 16 percent.

According to Statistics Austria, the affected seniors most often traveled by bike (37 percent), by car (35 percent) or on foot (eleven percent) in 2023. And they also caused more serious accidents themselves: car drivers over 65 years of age caused 18 percent of serious traffic accidents with multiple people involved, while this was only the case for drivers of other age groups in 13 percent.

The main causes of accidents among drivers over 65 were priority violations (45 percent) and carelessness or distraction (24 percent). However, improper speed (five percent) and alcohol, drugs or medication (three percent) were significantly less likely than in other age groups to be the reason for a road traffic incident.

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The nationwide trend in the first three quarters of the previous year is also reflected in Upper Austria: 937 of the 6,498 people injured in accidents were over 65 years old – that means a share of 14.4 percent. In 2017 there were 798 (12.1 percent). More than one in five of the 62 people who died on Upper Austria’s roads were in the over-65 age group.

In the first nine months of the previous year, 9,293 people had accidents nationwide on bicycles or e-scooters. More than a quarter of the cyclists were riding an electric bike when the accident occurred. The average age of the e-bike riders who had an accident was 55 years. The injured cyclists without an electric drive (46 years old) and the e-scooter riders (34 years old) were on average significantly younger.

Alcohol among e-scooter drivers

There were also big differences when it came to wearing helmets: While 55 percent of the e-bike handlebar accidents wore one and 47 percent of the cyclists without an electric drive did so, only eight percent of the e-scooter riders protected their heads.

One in eight e-scooter drivers was also drunk at the time of a traffic accident – sometimes even heavily. 90 percent of the e-scooter drivers checked had more than one per mille of alcohol in their blood at the time of the accident, 28 percent even had more than two per mille. For comparison: Only four percent of car drivers and three percent of motorcyclists were drunk in traffic accidents.

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