BY MARK DAVIS
SOUTHBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Drivers, young and old, are causing big wrecks, but who’s responsible for the majority of them?
The police say a 70-year-old driver traveling south on the northbound side of the parkway for 15 miles caused a crash that tied up traffic for miles last month.
And how many times have seen stories on News 8 of a car crashing into a building, often with an elderly driver behind the wheel.
In 2010, there were about 100,000 traffic accidents in Connecticut. That’s an average year.
Of those, about 6,100 involved drivers over age 75. In about 4,100, the older driver was at fault.
However, by comparison, drivers age 16 to 21 were responsible for more than 24,000 accidents.
In order to encourage more and more people over 50 to take driver safety courses, insurance companies are offering discounts of five to 10 percent on premiums for those that take them.
Hundreds of Connecticut residents like those at the Watermark at East Hills retirement community take the course every week.
“Older drivers are not more dangerous drivers than younger drivers,” said Bob Van Tassel, AARP driving instructor.
That’s because they don’t drive as much.
“You don’t mind driving on the interstate,” asked News 8’s Mark Davis.
“I don’t go on the interstate,” said Jean Lawrence, of Southbury. “I don’t drive at night.”
“When old drivers get involved in accidents they can be more deadly than younger drivers because we’re getting old, we’re getting brittle, things break a little easier,” said Van Tassel.
The four hour courses are given by the AARP at a cost of $12.
“I think it’s wise, one for the insurance discount, but the second is for finding changes in the law because they are changing and they’re not well publicized as to what things are,” said Ed Barkus, of Oakville, “this is a place to pick up on it.”
Some of the seniors say they see other seniors who should not be driving, but that’s not all.
“I see younger drivers who shouldn’t be driving, ya know,” said Kay Carlucci, of Southbury. “I mean they’re on the phone, they’re texting, they’re a danger.”
“You don’t do that,” asked Davis.
“Never,” said Carlucci.
The DMV says they are launching an outreach program on the health issues of elderly in September.