It's official: Teens are the worst drivers, new research shows.

Drivers 65 and older are just one-third as likely as drivers 18 to 25 to cause auto accidents, and not much more likely than drivers 26 to 64 to cause accidents, according to a RAND Corp. study issued this week.

“While driving ability declines with age for most people, those seniors who continue to drive appear to be safer drivers than the general public might think,” said David Loughran, a RAND senior economist and professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, in a news release. “By far, it is the youngest drivers who pose the greatest risk to traffic safety.”

Researchers found that in 2001, people 65 and older accounted for about 15 percent of all licensed drivers but caused only about 7 percent of all accidents in the United States. By contrast, people ages 18 to 25 accounted for just 13 percent of all licensed drivers, but caused 43 percent of all accidents.

Because senior citizens are generally in poorer health and more frail than younger people, drivers 65 and older are at much greater risk of serious injury or death when they do have an accident, according to the study by RAND, a nonprofit research organization. Senior drivers are nearly seven times more likely than younger drivers to be killed in a two-car accident.

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“Seniors who drive pose a much larger risk to themselves than to others,” said Loughran, the lead author of the study. “As the U.S. population ages, injury rates will increase — not because seniors cause more accidents, but because seniors are more vulnerable to injury when they get into an accident.”