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Knowing When to Say When: Heightened Risks of Elderly Drivers

One of the most difficult aspects of the aging process is admitting that certain activities have simply become too difficult. For some people, that means hanging up their golf clubs or tennis rackets, and for others it means putting down the car keys. Since ocular degeneration, dulled reflexes and impaired hearing are some of the most common indications of aging, it’s no wonder that driving an automobile can quickly become an activity of which certain senior citizens are simply no longer capable.

Golden years in the Sunshine State

As a major destination for senior citizens who flock to retirement homes or simply join other snowbirds each year fleeing the brutal winters of the northern climes, Florida has the highest population of senior citizens per capita of any state in the nation, hovering around 17 percent of the general population, according to the latest U.S. Census. As a result, Florida witnesses an increase in its older drivers every year. Indeed, studies show that Florida has more drivers over the age of 65 than any other state in the country. Those figures are projected to increase by 27 percent over the next 15 years. As current laws place no age limit on drivers, Florida has literally thousands of drivers in the 91 to 100 years category as well.

Safe mobility for life

Florida’s Department of Transportation is taking a hard look at the issue of elderly drivers and has taken proactive steps to make the state’s roads as safe as possible. One step it has taken is to create a coalition called the Safe Mobility for Life Program to assist aging road users. Initiatives on which the program has embarked include:

  • The publication of a guide for aging drivers
  • A ride share program
  • Disaster preparedness training.

Frightening facts

While people over the age of 65 make up approximately 13 percent of society, they account for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities and eight percent of all people injured in traffic accidents. In 2009, 5,288 people aged 65 and older were killed and 187,000 were injured in automobile crashes. These statistics confirm anecdotal evidence that aging drivers may pose higher risks on the roads.

If you are an older driver who recently had an accident, or if you were involved in an accident in which the other motorist was an older driver, quality legal advice is critical in determining the next steps in your case.

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