Florida’s great weather and attractions encourage a large amount of seniors to migrate here every year. According to one study, Florida is the most popular state in the US for retirees to migrate to, topping the chart at nearly 70,000 in 2017. And with baby boomers quickly coming to retirement age, the amount of elderly drivers on Florida roads is likely to increase.
There are plenty of positives a large older adult population brings, but there are dangers on the road associated with getting older. That’s why we’re sharing some tips that could help keep elderly drivers safe on the road.
If you’re an older driver who has been injured in a driving accident in Tampa, you may not be sure what options you have. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our Tampa car accident attorneys have years of experience dealing with accidents just like yours. Give us a call at (813) 553-5352 or contact us online so we can schedule your free consultation today.
Aging and Increased Driving Risk
Mortality rates related to crashes involving elderly drivers are startling. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle deaths involving drivers over the age of 65 have increased by 30% since 2009.
And the news is no better for Florida. As an older driver, you should be extra cautious while navigating Florida’s dangerous roads, as you have a significantly higher chance of being seriously injured or killed.
An unfortunate but well-known fact about getting older is that it can have an impact on our minds and bodies. Starting from the age of 55, a decrease in information processing and driving ability is likely to kick in.
An older driver might also have certain medical issues that could lead to an increased risk of operator error. For example, mobility problems could increase the chance of a pedal misapplication crash, where a driver accidentally accelerates when they meant to brake. One study found that about 25% of pedal misapplication crashes involved drivers over the age of 70, even though these drivers represent only 10% of all licensed drivers.
If you’re on the road in your golden years, it may benefit you to keep the following advice in mind.
Staying Safe on Tampa Roads as an Aging Driver
Keep Your Eyes On the Road
Stay vigilant at all times while driving on Florida roads. Keep a safe following distance behind drivers and practice patience behind slow drivers. Pass legally and safely, and don’t tailgate!
Get an Eye Exam Regularly
Ensure your prescription is up-to-date with a yearly eye exam. If you are above age 80, Florida requires you to report a new eye exam with every six-year renewal.
One of the oldest rules in the book, and one of the most important ones for elderly drivers to keep in mind. Seatbelts save lives every day, and a bad accident could be a whole lot worse if you’re not wearing yours.
Silence Your Mobile Devices
Do not look at a phone or tablet while driving. If you need to use a device for navigation, make sure to set it up while safely parked. Only make adjustments when you’re out of traffic and parked in a safe area.
Limit Other Distractions
Fiddling with the radio, snacking while driving, taking a sip of coffee or water, chatting with other drivers – these are all potentially hazardous distractions that cause a momentary lapse in attention. These moments can lead to an accident, especially if these sorts of distractions are common for you.
Drive In Good Conditions
Driving during daytime hours and good, clear weather is a good way to increase the chance you will spot danger on the road before it causes an accident. Driving during lulls in traffic, such as late morning or early afternoon, can also decrease your odds of a collision.
Don’t Drive Intoxicated
Another old rule – don’t drive while drunk or under the influence of any drug. This includes medications that may make you feel drowsy or unalert. Make sure to follow any rules about operating motor vehicles on your prescriptions and speak with your doctor about any medications you take that could lead to risky driving.
Don’t Drive Exhausted
It may surprise you that drowsy driving has been found to factor into up to 20% of fatal accidents. Drowsiness can lead to exaggerated behavior, slower reaction times, lower alertness, and difficulty focusing the eyes.
Warning Signs for Elderly Drivers
Just the same as any other Florida driver, elderly drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road and adhere to a duty of care when driving. For this reason, it’s important to keep some things in mind as you continue to drive into your later years.
Consider looking for new transportation options or limiting driving if the following apply to you:
- Your response time is noticeably slower
- You have difficulty staying in a lane while driving
- You get nervous or scared while behind the wheel or a car
- You have difficulty seeing signs, signals, or lights on other cars
- You have medical issues that make it difficult or painful to drive a car
- You’ve been in near-misses lately that may represent an increased risk of an accident
- You have trouble judging distances at intersections or around corners
- You’ve received more than one traffic ticket or warning from police in the last two years
Some specific differences apply to drivers over the age of 80 in Florida. While most drivers need to renew their license every eight years, drivers over the age of 80 are required to renew it every six years. You may also be responsible for passing a vision test to ensure your eyesight is good enough to operate a vehicle.
Contact a Tampa Car Accident Attorney
Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of independence. But with driving, there’s more risk and responsibility. As Florida continues to grow its older population, it will become more and more important for elderly drivers to stay safe. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Tampa car accident, call Steinger, Greene & Feiner at (813) 553-5352 or fill out our contact form to get set up with a free consultation today. Our team of experienced car accident attorneys will be able to discover negligence where it exists and work with you toward the compensation you need for your injuries.