Report Finds Elderly Drivers Prone To Traffic Fatalities in Florida

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By Marcus Fernandez

Its popularity as a retirement destination may be the reason the population of Florida has the second highest percentage of people ages 65 and older at 21.1% of the population of Florida. The Sunshine State has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in elderly traffic fatalities.

The number of fatalities does not necessarily reflect on the driving ability of senior motorists. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that older drivers exhibit safer behavior than younger drivers. The CDC reports that elderly drivers may be more prone to death and injury in a crash because their age makes them more vulnerable physically. 

For many seniors, a driver’s license is essential to their mobility and independence. It may be the only means available for traveling to see a doctor, shopping, or gathering for social activities. This article explores what seniors and their caregivers can do to prevent elderly traffic fatalities.

The aging process and planning to retain mobility

You may be an excellent driver, but the aging process can affect your ability to see and hear. Suddenly, you notice yourself squinting to read traffic signs or find yourself having difficulty seeing at night. The time it takes you to recognize a hazard and react to it takes longer. These and other effects of the aging process can cause elderly traffic fatalities.

Getting yearly eye exams to identify and correct vision changes, leaving more distance between your car and other vehicles to increase the time you have to react to emergencies, and maintaining a safe speed are some of the ways to remain a safe driver. However, it also helps to have a plan in place should the day ever come that an accident or the effects of age prevent you from driving.

A mobility plan lets you retain mobility, which is so important to independence for seniors. The plan includes transportation alternatives in place of driving to go shopping and participate in the many activities at the senior centers located throughout Hillsborough County. The CDC website has a guide to help seniors and their families create a mobility plan.

Getting an unsafe senior driver off the road

A doctor, caregiver, any person or agency can make a confidential report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The law authorizes the FLHSMV to conduct an investigation to determine if a licensed driver has a medical condition, which can be either physical or mental, that makes it unsafe for them to drive. 

As part of its investigation, the FLHSMV may require that the motorist produce medical information about their physician or other health care provider for review. The department may at the conclusion of its investigation revoke the person’s driving privileges.

The law protects the identity of the person making the initial report about an unsafe driver. It also protects them from legal action brought against them should the motorist discover who filed the report.

Caregivers and relatives can take other measures before reporting a unsafe senior driver, including:

  • Taking away the person’s car or taking their only set of keys.
  • Disabling their vehicle.
  • Helping the senior driver find other ways to get around to eliminate the need to drive.

As important as an older relative’s independence may be, their life and public safety come first.

Getting help when involved in an accident 

If you are in an accident caused by the negligence of a senior driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.