SWFL Senior Driving Safety in Focus as Season Begins

You’ve probably noticed, our roadways are getting a little more cramped with each passing day. The snowbirds are heading south and they’re setting up camp here in South Florida. Did you know that the state of Florida leads the country with more than 17 percent of our population being 65-years-old or older?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reports that’s a number that’s going to continue to grow. By the year 2030, over 27 percent of our population will be over the age of 65, compared to 19 percent for the rest of the nation. I 459060_sunset_boulevard.jpg

Our car accident lawyers in Fort Myers understand that of the 16 million drivers here in the state of Florida, more than 3 million of them are over the age of 65. These residents and seasonal visitors want to remain active and productive members of their community. Unfortunately, there comes a time when we can no longer do that behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. And that’s why officials with the DHSMV are pushing Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. This week-long campaign is used to help ensure that senior residents can still partake in community activities and every day duties while being able to do so safely.

“We know the [older] population is going to increase,” said Gail Holley, with the Safe Mobility for Life program at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). “What we’re trying to do is not let the crashes increase.”

While Florida officials are doing a fair job of keeping an eye on our elderly drivers, so much more could be done. In the state of Florida, motorists are required to pass a vision test in person every 8 years. Individuals over the age of 80 are required to do so every 6 years. The Florida Highway Patrol has also undertaken an effort to educate the public and troopers about the method for reporting drivers in need of evaluation.

But is that enough?

Aging drivers should be tested on more than just vision, said Dr. Marco Pahor, director of the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging.

Statistics show that the elderly are more likely than other drivers to receive traffic citations for failing to yield, turning improperly, and running red lights and stop signs. Although they drive fewer miles than drivers in other age groups, older drivers have a higher fatality rate on a per-mile driven basis. Drivers 75 years of age and over, once they are involved in a crash, are three times more likely to die than a young driver.

Motorists 80 or older had a crash rate of 90 per 10,000 licensed drivers in 2010, compared with 347 crashes per 10,000 drivers for those ages 15 to 24, according to figures from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

How do you know when it’s time for your loved one to limit or stop driving? It’s a tough subject for most families, but it’s a serious matter. If you suspect that your elderly family members are in danger behind the wheel, we encourage you to sit and discuss alternative transportation options. It could end up saving their life.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured. Call for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. 1-800-283-2900.

More Blog Entries:

Red-Light Running and Intersection Traffic Accidents in Southwest Florida, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 30, 2013
Uninsured Motorist Accidents – Florida at Highest Risk, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 25, 2013

Contact Information