TRIP, a national transportation group, found that in 2010, Florida had the most fatalities involving drivers aged 65 and older. Seven years later, in 2017, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the same results.
A quick look into the matter will bring up articles with headlines like “Is it Time to Get Grandpa Off the Road?” and “Should Elderly People Even Drive?” However, these kinds of pieces tend to offer few real solutions. Moreover, they’re based on the premise that older drivers are dangerous – but NHTSA findings show that seniors are actually the safest drivers on the road.
So why does Florida have the highest number of senior traffic fatalities? Researchers aren’t exactly sure, though population has to play a large part. Florida has a higher percentage of seniors than any other state, and experts estimate that Florida will gain over 2.5 million more senior residents in the next 20 years. By 2030, 25 percent of Florida drivers will be seniors.
Florida’s Statewide Senior Transportation Options
Florida knows its senior population greatly values its independence, and that all seniors vitally need to freely move about. Otherwise, they are more likely to suffer depression, malnutrition, and other serious health risks. To help with this and minimize the dangers to seniors on the road, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs asked all of its communities to create and broaden senior-friendly transportation and promote alternative sources.
Today, there is a myriad of services available to Florida seniors regardless of whether or not they drive, where they live, or what their financial situation is. Most are extremely easy to find with a simple internet search.
Here are just a few:
- Resources for Older Drivers. Here you will find all of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles resources for older drivers. Here are just a few of the links it provides:
- CarFit. An educational program that allows seniors to verify how well their car “fits.” How a driver adjusts themselves increases both their and other drivers’ safety.
- Safe Mobility for Life. A comprehensive website with worksheets, guidebooks, self-assessments, external links, and many other resources to help Floridians maintain safe transportation goals. It includes Find a Ride Florida, an online source that helps find local transportation options.
- Council on Aging’s Transportation Department. Contains a list of resources for para-transit services, public transportation, and other management and mobility
Why Are Florida Seniors More Vulnerable to Traffic-Related Fatalities?
As mentioned above, senior drivers are actually the most likely group to observe traffic laws and wear seat belts, and they usually don’t drive distracted or use toxic substances. Despite this, age-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, bone fragility, and others make them more vulnerable to traffic-related injuries, which then makes recovery more difficult.
At around age 55, gradual physical changes also begin and seniors may experience visual, cognition, and physical conditions that affect their abilities to optimally operate a vehicle. The medications they take may also cause impairing side-effects.
Physician studies recommend safe exercise to reduce the pains associated with age and to improve overall health and flexibility. However, before recommending a new kind of exercise or medication to a senior, always consult a doctor. Don’t just read an internet or magazine article.
Florida state compensation laws regarding motor vehicle accidents can be confusing and complex. Should your loved one ever be involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should consult an attorney about your rights.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.