Last Update 01/27/16
According to the Department of Transportation, there were 35,000,000 licensed older drivers (over the age of 65 years) in 2012 and, according to the National Safety Council, there will be a huge (70%) increase in the number of American drivers on the road over the age of 65 years in the next 20 years. Unfortunately, there are also estimates that there will be a big jump in the number of seniors and elder drivers dying in traffic accidents and car crashes, too.
That’s one reason why the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) came up with the idea for the Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which occurs this week, and why both federal and state agencies are helping to promote older driver safety awareness in all sorts of ways.Florida drivers over a certain age want to be able to drive their cars and keep their driver’s licenses as long as possible.
Florida Governor Rick Scott Proclaims December 1 -7, 2013, as Florida’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week
On November 25, 2013, Governor Scott issued a formal proclamation that Florida would be recognizing the week of December 1 – 7 as “Florida Older Driver Safety Awareness Week,” with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy climbing on the bandwagon with both federal and state organizations across the country to use this time to focus on the needs of older drivers and the need to minimize the dangers faced by those driving in Florida over the age of 65 years.
According to the Governor’s news release on Florida’s participation in Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, by 2030 almost a quarter of Florida’s drivers will be over the age of 65 years (22%) by 2030 — and in 2011, Florida already tallied 18.9% of its drivers being over the age of 65 years.
Keeping Seniors and Elders on the Road and Behind the Wheel as Long as Possible – Driving Freedom is Important to Florida Elders
For these experienced adults, driving their own vehicles on the road to run errands, take trips, or just cruise the beautiful coastline roads of Florida on a sunny Sunday afternoon is an extremely important part of their Florida life style – and most seniors and elders living here in the Miami area will tell you that driving is vital to their way of life and their pursuit of happiness.
However, as human bodies age things like sight and the ability to physically react quickly to sudden dangers can change. Slowed reactions or the loss of peripheral vision or the ability to see things on the road after dark can mean that the senior driver is endangering himself (or herself) while driving, as well as risking harm or injury to others on the road.
The National Safety Council offers this tips to adult children that are concerned about their elder parent’s driving abilities:
- Take several drives with the older driver at the wheel and observe his/her driving with an open mind.
- Notice whether the older driver is reluctant to drive.
- Watch for slowed reaction time.
- Notice the older driver’s awareness of the driving environment.
- Check the vehicle for signs of damage when the older driver is not with you.
- Check with trusted friends and neighbors about his/her driving.
The Federal Government Has New Traffic Safety Plan for Older Drivers – Seniors and Elders Behind the Wheel
This week, in tandem with Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new federal plan for regulating the nation’s growing population of older drivers.
“Safety is our highest priority and that includes ensuring the safety of our older drivers, who represent a growing population on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This plan will help enhance safety for everyone by helping states address the mobility needs of their older drivers.”
To read the complete plan online, go here.
From the NHTSA press release, here is a summary of the new federal plan for older drivers in Florida and elsewhere:
1. Vehicle Safety:
NHTSA is researching a number of advanced vehicle technologies including vehicle-to-vehicle communications, collision avoidance and crashworthiness, that could help reduce the risk of death or injury to older occupants in the event of a crash. Crash avoidance technologies will benefit all drivers, but may be of special assistance to older drivers, while certain crashworthiness improvements could help address the special vulnerabilities of older occupants. The agency is also considering upgrades to its New Car Assessment Program, including a new “Silver” rating system for older occupants.
2. Improved Data Collection:
NHTSA is refining its data collection systems and will continue to evaluate crash rates, real-world injuries, as well as physical, cognitive and perceptual changes associated with driver behaviors. In addition, NHTSA plans to conduct clinical and naturalistic driving studies to better understand the effects of age-related medical conditions, including dementia.
3. Driver Behavior:
Recognizing that age alone is not a determining factor for safe driving, NHTSA continues to focus its efforts on public education and identifying functional changes including vision, strength, flexibility and cognition to help at-risk drivers. This effort includes first-of-its-kind Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines, released today, that states can implement to keep older people safely mobile.
What Does This Mean to Florida’s Older Drivers? More Governmental Assessment of Their Ability to Drive Their Cars, to Have a Driver’s License, and Increased Risk of Being Held Liable for Car Crashes and Traffic Accidents
The Governors’ Highway Safety Administration describes the new federal plan to its web readers as:
“In terms of partnerships, NHTSA plans to foster partnerships at all levels (national, regional state, and local) by: examining existing older driver partnerships; developing partnership criteria; and facilitating information sharing among partners.
“The plan calls for improved driver licensing policies in three areas: model screening protocol for DMV counter personnel during license renewal, more robust medical advisory boards (MABs), and law enforcement training on how and when to make referrals to MABs.”
For many Florida drivers, this may boil down to a fight over whether or not they will be able to keep their driver’s license — as well as whether or not they are to blame for any accident or crash in which their vehicle may be involved.
Florida personal injury lawyers experienced in defending car crashes and who keep track of driving statistics in Florida know all too well that older drivers are among the safest and most responsible of all drivers on the road, and are there to advocate for these Florida drivers should they be targeted for crash liability or license revocation due to their age.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.