- As of 2015, there were more than 40 million licensed drivers aged 65 or older.
- 40% of fatal accidents among people age 80 and older involved multiple vehicles.
- The number of fatal crashes per mile driven increases for those aged 70 to 74.
When we hear of a crash involving an older adult, our minds immediately begin to turn. “What was that person doing on the road anyway? There should be a driving test for seniors. We all know that senior citizens are more dangerous than other drivers.”
The fact of the matter is that our thinking may be all wrong. Research has actually shown that this age group is among the safest on the road. The issue is that they are more likely to sustain serious injury and, thus, more likely to make the news.
As a resident of Florida, you may have certain feelings about snowbirds taking over the roadways. The season is officially coming — and sooner than we may realize. The north is experiencing bouts of cold that may have people flocking to the South even earlier.
Before these people take to our state’s highways and city streets, let’s take a moment to look at the realities of older drivers. Separating myth from fact may help you develop a deeper understanding of these aged persons and their capabilities behind the wheel.
1. Older Drivers Aren’t Safe
It’s a pervasive myth. We see gray hair behind the wheel of a vehicle and assume that the person isn’t going to drive safely. While it’s certainly true that the elderly have health and mobility concerns that may impair their functionality and put them at greater risk of accident, they are:
- less likely to drink and drive
- less likely to operate their vehicles recklessly
- less likely to travel at high speeds
This makes elderly drivers inherently safer than their younger counterparts.
2. Older Drivers Tend to Regulate Themselves
While this certainly isn’t true for every older adult, most do regulate themselves. It’s not unusual for an elderly adult to stop driving because they feel they can no longer do so safely. Drivers who do limit themselves often do so because of declining physical health. For example, a person may find that they can no longer see well at night, even with corrected vision.
People may not regulate themselves when the problems are cognitive in nature. A person may not realize that their reaction time has slowed or that they are no longer making the safest decisions. In these cases, it may be up to families to let their loved ones know when it’s time to hang up the keys.
3. All Older Drivers Face Serious Functional Declines
No one has an expiration date stamped on their foot. No one ages at the same rate or experiences the same declines as someone else. It’s not fair to say that all elderly drivers of, say, age 70, possess the same abilities or inabilities to drive.
Studies have shown that most elderly drivers do not differ in their ability to drive when compared to middle-aged counterparts.
4. Doctors Know When It’s Time to Quit Driving
People believe that a physician has some sort of checklist and can tell an older adult when it is time to stop driving. This simply isn’t true.
While a doctor can certainly diagnose health conditions or discuss safe driving with their patient, they tend to prefer that the DMV handles issues of whether or not an older adult continues driving.
5. The DMV Doesn’t Always Know Signs of Risk
People also believe that the workers at a DMV can easily determine when they should refuse to renew the driver’s license of an elderly person. The fact is that people who work at the DMV are not given any training in recognizing the signs of risk.
If a person can pass the eye test, provides proof of insurance and has the appropriate payment, their license will be renewed.
6. Public Transportation Isn’t Sufficient
It’s a mistake to believe that public transportation is a realistic option for all elderly adults. Public transportation is not always accessible or available.
In some cases, it is available but doesn’t travel in the right direction. Public transportation can also be difficult for people who are suffering with types of dementia.
7. Children Can Just Take a License Away
If an elderly adult won’t give up their license, their child should just take it away. If only life were this easy. An adult child does not have the legal right to take their parent’s license away.
They do have the right to have a conversation or make suggestions, but they can’t simply have their parent’s license revoked.
Our Pensacola Car Accident Attorneys are Here to Help
With snowbird season on the horizon, changing our general opinions of elderly drivers is important. Older adults have just as much right to our roadways as any other legal driver. Knowing the myths and facts surrounding this population can go a long way in formulating reasonable and realistic expectations.
If you are in an accident in Florida, you need our Pensacola car accident attorneys on your side. Call our office as soon as possible to schedule your free case evaluation and discover more about your legal rights. We will help you hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions. You and your family do not deserve to experience financial difficulty due to the negligence of another. Reach out now for your consultation.