6A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 5, 2001
Studies: Older drivers less likely to be in crashes
The Washington Post
Older drivers have long been considered
unsafe drivers, hindrances in a fast-paced
society. But new studies show that seniors
behind the wheel are a greater threat to them-
selves than to their fellow travelers.
The studies, released yesterday by the Insur-
ance Institute for Highway Safety, which repre-
seits major auto insurers, show that older
drivers have a higher death rate than other
groups because they are more susceptible to
injuy, not because they have more accidents.
The research, the first the institute has done
onielderly drivers, was designed to look at the
experience of older drivers and the safety
problems they might present for society.
The number of people over 65 is expected
to double to 70 million in the next 30 years-as
the baby boom generation hits retirement age.
"The general perception is that older dri-
vers are a menace on the road," Susan Fergu-
son, senior vice president for research at the
institute and one of the authors of the studies,
said in an interview. "I think the bottom line
of the study is that they are really not a men-
ace to anyone but themselves."
"We should be paying attention to this issue
and thinking about ways to improve the safety
of the vehicle,' including the seat belts and air
bags, she added.
The studies show that older drivers kill
fewer motorists and pedestrians than any
other age group and have the lowest crash
rates per licensed driver. The number of older
drivers is growing at a faster rate than any
other age group, and older drivers are keeping
their licenses longer and driving more miles.
The elderly are expected to continue to be
underrepresented in all crashes in future
The study used federal statistics from the
National Personal Transportation Survey for
1995, the latest year available. It showed that
people over 65 accounted for 17 percent of
the population and 14 percent of licensed dri-
vers. Older drivers were involved in 8 percent
of police-reported accidents, but made up 13
percent of the drivers in fatal crashes.
Ferguson said this trend is expected to con-
tinue as the statistics are updated.
Younger drivers aged 16 to 24 had the high-
est accident rate, more than double the rate for
older drivers. At the same time, they had
fewer fatalities. The accident rate for younger
drivers begins to level off at about age 30,
according to the studies.
" Older drivers now account for 1 in 6 acci-
dent fatalities. As the elderly population
grows, that number is expected to increase to
1 in 4.
When older drivers, especially those over
75, are involved in an auto crash, they are
more likely to die than younger drivers, who
have a higher accident rate, the institute
Statistically, the crash rates for older drivers
are lower than for other drivers because fewer
of them are licensed to drive and they drive
fewer miles. They also tend to stay off the
roads during busy rush hours and at night.
"They tend to screen themselves," said
institute spokesman Russell Rader.
As baby boomers age, they are expected to
drive more than their predecessors.
This trend is already underway. Between
1983 and 1995, elderly drivers increased their -
annual driving from 4,345 miles to 6,276
miles. This was still little more than half the
average 11,764 mileage of all drivers is 1995.
Touchscreen voting debuts in Fla..
CALLAHAN, Fla. (AP) - Voters in this small
town yesterday became the first in Florida to use
touchscreen voting machines, which many counties
are considering as the state rids itself of the punch-
card ballots that hung up the 2000 presidential elec-
"No more hanging, dimpled or pregnant chads,"
Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan said after getting a demon-
stration of the machines in the town in northern
Florida's Nassau County. "It's very impressive."
Yesterday's election in the town of 527 registered
voters, out of a population of 946, was for three of
its four town council members.
"I like it," 72-year-old voter Rosa Lee Thomas
said of the machines. "It's an easier way for me to
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In future elections statewide, Florida voters will
have to use either the touchscreen or optical scan-
Punch cards were banned because of their role in
the recounts and court fights after last fall's presi-
The touchscreens, similar to automated teller
machines, will not let voters cast more than one vote
in each race. They will let voters skip a race, but
will ask them if they know they did that.
The machines also can read a ballot to blind vot-
Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb.,
is the only company now certified by the state to sell
touchscreen machines. ES&S offered Callahan free
use of the technology for yesterday's election, said
Vicki Peterson Cannon, Nassau County supervisor
Buying enough of the machines for Nassau Coun-
ty's 38,000 registered voters would cost about
Touchscreens have been in use for several years
in Greensboro, N.C., and have seen some use in
Dallas, said Dan McGinnis, vice president sales for
ES&S. Florida's Pasco County, north of Tampa, has
contracted with ES&S to begin a move to touch-
The touchscreens are more expensive than the
optical scanning systems - similar to those used to
score standardized school tests - but they could
save money in big counties by eliminating the cost
of printing and storing paper ballots.
U.S. fighters bomb
Iraqi air defenses
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WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. fighter
jets bombed Iraqi air defenses in sepa-
rate attacks yesterday in the southern
and northern "no-fly" zones, defense
The official Iraqi news agency said
the strike in the south injured four peo-
ple. The Pentagon generally does not
comment immediately on casualties
related to patrols over Iraq.
Douglas Feith, undersecretary of
defense for policy, told reporters that
the latest attacks
were a continuation "Ie're n
of the administra-
tion's policy of to just aL
provocations from passively
Iraqi air defenses.
"We're not going challenge
to just absorb pas-
sively these chal- CreWS Whi
lenges to crews who
are enforcing a U.N. enforcing
policy. They're per-71 ,
forming an impor- pol y
tant function, and
the Iraqi govern-
ment has no right to U.S.
be shooting atl
He would not say whether the Bush
administration was taking a new, more
aggressive approach toward Iraq and its
president, Saddam Hussein.
"We note that the Saddam Hussein
regime is continuing to pursue weapons
of mass destruction and missile capa-
bilities. It continues to pose a threat to
neighboring states. It is engaged in sub-
versive activities throughout the region;
it's working to aggravate Arab-Israeli
problems, for example. And it's seeking
to undo the no-fly zone policy by con-
tinually attacking the coalition aircraft.
"The Saddam Hussein regime is a
serious threat to its neighbors and the
well-being of its own people, and we
will be taking all of this into account.
That's all I want to say at the moment,"
Yesterday's was the fourth attack in
southern Iraq in less than two weeks. In
a brief announcement, U.S. Central
Command said the strike was in
response to recent Iraqi "hostile threats"
against the American and British air-
craft that regularly patrol the skies over
The announcement gave few details
beyond saying the targets were Iraqi
anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air
-- Douglas Feith
Defense for Policy
A defense offi-
cial, speaking on
anonymity, said the
targets were neat
the city of As
130 miles southeast
of Baghdad. They.
were attacked by
U.S. Air Force F-
16s and U.S. Navy
F/A-18s. The Navy
jets were launched
from the USS
carrier in the Per-
sian Gulf. The
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attack happened at about 9 a.m. EDT.
In the northern zone, U.S. officials
said Air Force jets fired high-speed
anti-radiation, or HARM, missiles at
three Iraqi air defense radar sites north
of the city of Mosul. The attack was
provoked by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery
fire directed at US. aircraft near Mosul,
U.S. officials said.
U.S. forces have been attacking Iraqi
air defense targets with increased regu-
larity in recent days, particularly in the.
south. Last Thursday, four Air Force F-
16 fighter jets attacked a long-range
radar stationed at Basra airport in
southern Iraq. U.S. officials said the
radar was not active at the time of the
attack but had been used in the past to
coordinate Iraqi air defense targeting.
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Hostage standoff at
nd. bank ends after
4 hours; no injuries
LOWELL, Ind. (AP) - A man
armed with a sawed-off shotgun
entered a bank and took nine people
hostage yesterday morning before sur-
rendering about four hours later. No
one was injured, police said.
The hostages were released as
police negotiators talked to the bank
manager, who relayed the gunman's
demands. Authorities said David
Potchen, 39, of Lowell, asked for two
Big Macs and a pack of cigarettes,
which were delivered in exchange for
Mike Arredondo, chief of the Lake
County Sheriff's Department, said it
wasn't clear if the man was trying to
Michael Schrage, president of Cen-
tier Bank, said some of the employees
who were held hostage recognized the
man as a former customer.
"He might have been without a job
and he hadn't eaten for a while,"
Schrage said after speaking with the
employees. "He was really unsure of
what he wanted and didn't know what*
he wanted to do"
Once released, the hostages were
brought into a department store in a
shopping plaza behind the bank. Store
employee Josh Wleklinski, 18, said he.
talked with some of the hostages.
"They were saying he was calm and.