And drinking (just not at the same time!) – We all know that teens are terrible drivers, and some municipalities want to take away drivers licenses from people over 70. But it turns out that grandpa is doing just fine (unless he’s a golfer).

Despite growing numbers on the road, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions during 1997-2006 than in years past. Compared with drivers ages 35-54 (to say nothing of teens!), older drivers experienced much bigger declines in fatal crash involvements. Reasons for the fatality declines aren’t clear, but some people think it’s because older adults increasingly self-limit their driving as they age and develop physical and cognitive impairments.

Compared with drivers ages 20-69, fewer people 70 and older are licensed to drive, and they drive fewer miles per licensed driver. However, older people now hang onto their licenses longer, drive more miles, and make up a bigger proportion of the population than in past years as baby boomers age. There were more than 20 million licensed drivers 70 and older in 2006, compared with just under 18 million in 1997.

And there’s MORE good news for gramps: It is well known that moderate drinking can have positive health benefits ? for instance, a couple of glasses of red wine a day can be good for the heart. But if you’re a senior in good health, light to moderate consumption of alcohol may also help prevent the development of the kinds of physical disabilities that hinder driving.

Researcher Arun Karlamangla says, “If you start out in good health, alcohol consumption at light to moderate levels can be beneficial. But if you don’t start out healthy, alcohol will not give you a benefit.”

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