It might seem conventional wisdom that as we grow older we become less safe behind the wheel, but data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that simply is not the case.

Although crashes by senior drivers often seem more spectacular and garner more media coverage, they happen much less often than accidents involving younger drivers. This might be why it seems as if senior drivers are a greater hazard than they actually are.

Florida is known for having a high concentration of seniors and like most places in America, little to no public transportation. This means seniors who want to stay active and mobile in Florida must have access to a car and a driver’s license. In fact state records show that Floridians 71 or older with driving licenses grew by almost 100,000 in the past five years. Despite this increase in senior drivers, their crash rate was much lower than for younger drivers.

The data from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shows that drivers who were 80 or older had a crash rate of 90 per 10,000 licensed drivers in 2010. That same year drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 had a whopping 347 crashes per 10,000 drivers. That is more than three times the rate of crashes for senior drivers.

It is true that seniors as a group do not drive as far or as often as their younger counter parts which does tend to skew the numbers, but it does not account for the large discrepancy between the two groups. This, experts say, is a sign that older drivers are also more cautious, safer drivers, than their younger counterparts.

As we age our reflexes slow, our eye sight becomes diminished and we suffer from a host of other physical ailments which can make driving more difficult. But it does not mean that we cannot safely operate a vehicle, retaining our freedom and ability to get where we want (or need) to go, whenever we need (or want) to go there.