By Marcus Fernandez
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 52 million members of the baby-boom population reached 65 years of age or older and represented 16% of the population in 2018. If current estimates prove to be correct, the entire generation of baby boomers will be at least 65 by 2030. As a result of this, the State of Florida puts a lot of value on senior driving laws.
Recognition of the adverse effect of aging on driving abilities caused many states to pass laws targeting elderly motorists. It may help to look at Florida senior driving laws to understand how a state with 20.5% of its population 65 years of age and older addresses the challenges presented by an aging population.
Challenges faced by senior drivers
According to the most recent data available from state officials, 335 drivers over the age of 65 got killed, and another 8,183 suffered some form of injuries in car accidents on Florida roads in 2018. Statistics gathered at the national level show that older drivers have a higher fatality rate in traffic accidents than do younger motorists.
Experts warn against using statistics about driver fatality rates to conclude about the driving abilities of older drivers. The AAA refers to seniors as being safer than younger drivers because they are more likely to use seat belts, obey traffic laws, and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It points to medical conditions rather than driving ability as the reason for their higher fatality rate in car accidents.
Florida senior driving laws
Florida has made changes to some of its laws to address challenges affecting older drivers. For example, the eight years between renewals of a driver’s license has been shortened to six years once a person reaches 80 years of age. A vision test may also be required of the older driver when they apply to renew the license.
Senior drivers have the option of taking a vision test at no cost to them at one of the many driver’s license and motor vehicle service centers located in Tampa and throughout Hillsborough County. A person failing a vision test may retake it after getting new glasses or changing the prescription of existing lenses. The state can impose driving restrictions on someone whose vision problems are not completely corrected with corrective lenses. For example, the government can issue a driver’s license prohibiting the holder from driving after dark.
Older drivers with medical conditions affecting their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely may not realize the danger they pose to themselves and others or may choose to ignore it and continue driving. Florida senior driving laws allow physicians, family members, or other concerned individuals to report at-risk drivers.
What happens when reported on medical conditions?
The state claims it takes no action in any age-discriminating reports. There must be a medical condition to authorizing an investigation by a state agency into the report. If drivers get a report on medical conditions affecting their driving, they receive a written notice of it. They have 45 days to submit their medical information to refute it. The state has a medical review panel that evaluates reports of a medical condition concerning driving abilities. A driver whose license is taken away because of a medical condition has the right to ask for a review. They can submit updated medical reports and information supporting their request to restore driving privileges.
The loss of a driver’s license can be devastating for older drivers who associate driving with independence and the ability to get around on their own. Programs providing rides for seniors may compensate for the loss of a driver’s license.
Losing or giving up a driver’s license may make it difficult for a senior to show identification when asked. Florida offers a solution by allowing them to apply for an official identification card to replace their driver’s license. It looks identical to and contains all of the information appearing on a driver’s license.
Keeping Tampa and Florida safe with senior driving laws
One out of every five people living in the Tampa area is at least 65 years of age, making it the oldest metropolitan center in the country. It also ranks as one of the top-20 regions in the country in aggressive driving and road rage accidents. Older drivers can do their part to make Tampa and Florida safer by doing the following:
- Ask their doctors about the effects of medical conditions and medications on their driving.
- Have yearly eye exams and always wear eyeglasses or contact lenses as directed.
- Avoid distractions while driving by not texting or talking on a cellphone or engaging in other distracting activities.
- Travel along routes with intersections controlled by left-turn signals.
- Avoid driving after dark or during inclement weather.
- Allow ample stopping distance between their car and other vehicles.
Senior drivers may pick up other tips for becoming a safer driver and earn a discount on their car insurance premium by taking a state-sponsored accident prevention course.
Consult a Tampa personal injury attorney
You can get an injury in an accident as a result of the negligence of another party. In this case, you may sue to recover compensation for their damages. A consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney provides much-needed advice about the law and skilled representation to pursue a claim.