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Who are Florida’s most dangerous drivers?  The elderly males. This second part of my two-part series on Florida’s most dangerous drivers looks at the elderly. As a Miami personal injury lawyer and the son of–let’s just say–two experienced driving parents, I am concerned about the danger posed on Florida’s highways by older drivers.  

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Starting at age 70, drivers are more prone to fatal crashes, and the likelihood increases per mile traveled. Their increased vulnerability to serious life-threatening injury results more from physical fragility than poor driving skills. However, when drivers reach the age of 85, age-related issues such as vision, cognitive functioning (ability to understand and remember), as well as slower reaction times and other physical limitations become significant contributing factors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are currently about 36 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States, and their chances of being seriously injured or killed in a traffic accident increase with their age. In fact, every day 15 older adults are killed and another 600 older adults are hurt in car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian traffic accidents.  In 2012 alone, nearly 6,000 older adults were killed, and more than 214,000 were seriously injured.  

There is some good news: even though the number of elderly drivers on the road is on the increase, as a whole the demographic segment is becoming safer in some respects than other segments.  Here’s why:   

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, Department of Transportation, elderly drivers are more likely to wear seatbelts, even in fatal collisions.  Three out of every four older motor vehicle passengers were wearing seatbelts–compared to two out three of adults aged 16-64.    Elderly drivers are also more likely to drive sober, during daytime hours, and when the weather is not bad.   

The single greatest traffic danger to the elderly–with striking frequency–involves being struck by a car while crossing the street as a pedestrian at an undesignated area.  We have all seen it: The old lady who does not or cannot walk to the crosswalk attempts to cross a busy intersection on foot and mis-estimates how far it is, how slowly she walks, and how quickly the oncoming traffic is approaching. In fact, more than half of all fatal pedestrian accidents involving the elderly occur at locations other than intersections.  That total is still below the average for the general public, but most of those incidents involve intoxicated pedestrians (with blood alcohol contents of .08g/dl or higher), in contrast to the sober elderly.

How can older driver deaths and injuries be prevented?

There is even more good news for the elderly and those of us who love them and share the road with them. They can stay safer while behind the wheel by heeding the following guidelines:

  1. Regular exercise to retain muscle strength, flexibility, and reaction times.
  2. Frequent audits of prescription medication to make sure that medicines are being taken in the correct dosage and at the proper frequency.
  3. Yearly eye exams to update prescriptions as vision can change more frequently the older one gets.   
  4. Driving short distances, only during daylight, and in good weather.
  5. Avoiding distractions–like talking on the phone.  For example, my mother does not have a Bluetooth phone, and I refuse to take calls from her if she is driving.  
  6. Using UBER whenever possible. Teach your loved ones how to use UBER, or arrange it for them whenever possible.  If you are new to UBER, we have collaborated with them to provide you and your loved ones a first-time discount code: FEELING22.

Our Miami car accident lawyers have investigated thousands of traffic accidents across the State of Florida on behalf of the injured and their families.  If you have been involved in a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident, you need an experienced personal injury law firm to protect your legal rights.  Never speak to an insurance company representative or sign any documentation until you have consulted with an attorney who specializes in personal injury.

We offer free initial and confidential consultations across Florida from Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach, Broward County, Miami, to Key West.   Call us today toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or 305-441-0440 or email us at [email protected].   We are ready to help you hold the insurance company accountable to compensate you with money for your lost wages, medical expenses, loss of use of your vehicle and its replacement costs, pain and suffering, and other damages.