Can you be too old to drive safely in West Palm Beach? As an article in TCPalm suggests, seniors may be responsible for almost as many car accidents in Florida as teen drivers. It is important to keep in mind that older adults currently make up approximately 23 percent of the total population in Florida according to an information sheet from the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Broward County. By 2020, that number will likely increase to 28 percent—nearly one-third of the state’s population. Given the higher population of seniors in Florida, do we need to think more carefully about older adults and auto accident risks?
Senior Drivers in Florida Cause a High Percentage of the State’s Serious and Fatal Collisions
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that drivers aged 65 and older were involved in 10 percent of all reported crashes in Florida in 2015, and in 14 collisions in which a fatality occurred. How do those numbers stack up against teen drivers and other young drivers in the state?
As of 2015, teen drivers are still involved in more accidents than older adults, but the numbers are quite close. Teen drivers were involved in about 11 percent of all car accidents in the state—just about one percentage point higher than seniors. Teen fatalities accounted for about 5 percent of all fatal crashes in the state in 2015. Younger drivers between the ages of 20-24 appear to be the least safe drivers in the state. In 2015, drivers in this age group were responsible for more than 13 percent of all collisions in Florida and 14.5 percent of crashes in which a fatality occurred.
Increasing Number of Older Drivers in Florida
As the article points out, the fact that younger drivers are responsible for a high number of accidents in the state may be less disconcerting than the number of senior car accidents. Why is this the case? While “the number of younger drivers is increasing gradually . . . the number of senior drivers in Florida is exploding.” We mentioned likely figures of the senior population in the state as of 2020. That number is expected to grow even more substantially by 2030. Indeed, experts predict that, by the year 2030, the population of Floridians aged 65 and older will grow to 7.77 million. To put that figure in relation to the numbers we have already mentioned, 7.77 million people would account for more than 37 percent of Florida’s current population.
The highest fatal accident rates are among Florida drivers who are aged 85 and older, but statistics show a significant increase in accident rates when drivers reach the age of 70. As the article underscores, there are some measures in place to prevent senior car accidents. For instance, Florida now requires drivers 80 and older to pass an eye test every six years when they renew their license. In addition, the program “Florida GrandDriver” is designed to “connect older motorists with driver refresher courses and self-assessment tools.”
At the same time, Florida driver’s licenses are valid for six years for those aged 80 and older. According to the FLHSMV, they are good for eight years for drivers who are younger. As such, the required vision test might not be sufficient. Moreover, vision may not be the only safety concern for senior drivers, and there are currently no measures in place to address other health issues that could affect an older person’s safe driving abilities.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a crash caused by an older driver, it is important to speak with a Florida car accident lawyer about your case. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC today for more information.