Older drivers in Florida. We have all seen them and probably made a comment or two about their driving. Driving when one shouldn't be can be deadly. According to the CDC, more than 5,500 older adults were killed in car accidents and more than 183,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2008. This amounts to 15 older adults killed and 500 injured in crashes on average every day. Car accidents deaths per mile traveled among both men and women begin to increase markedly after age 75. Some of the reasons for this are age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning such as memory, as well as physical changes such as arthritis or reduced strength may affect some older adults' driving abilities.
This doesn't mean that older people must stop driving. Driving plays an important role in many older adults' mobility and independence. However, here are some signs that an older driver should no longer be driving:
• A decrease in confidence while driving.
• Difficulty turning to see when backing up.
• Riding the brake.
• Easily distracted while driving.
• Other drivers often honk horns.
• Incorrect signaling.
• Parking inappropriately.
• Hitting curbs.
• Scrapes or dents on the car, mailbox or garage.
• Failure to notice important activity on the side of the road.
• Near misses.
• Delayed response to unexpected situations.
• Moving into the wrong lane.
• Difficulty maintaining lane position.
• Getting lost in familiar places.
• Car accident.
If your loved one displays these signs, you should talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whether their medication (both prescription and over-the counter) impacts their driving ability. Also, you should encourage the older driver to having their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Lastly, talk with the older driver’s friends to consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or using public transit.
Florida has more than 2 million drivers between the ages of 65 and 74, and about 250,000 are older than 85. These older drivers put themselves at risk when they shouldn't be driving, but they also put you and me at risk of a car accident when we share the road with them.
Drive safely and stop driving when it is no longer safe to do so. You could save your life and the lives of others.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those involved in car accidents caused by older drivers (as well as car accident caused by younger drivers). His Clearwater personal injury law firm--Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes--has been caring for clients since 1955. Benefit from their experience. Click here for a free case consultation about your rights after a Florida car accident.