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Unique Challenges facing Senior Drivers


If you have an elderly family member, and have growing concerns about whether or not that person is safe behind the wheel, you may have valid concerns. Being informed about the special challenges facing your senior loved ones is an important step to keeping them safe. If an accident does occur, it may be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Driving Statistics for the Elderly 

Thanks to the advancing Baby Boomer generation, we have more elderly drivers on the road than ever before. In fact, over 15 percent, or nearly 50 million drivers in this country, are over the age of 65.

Unfortunately, the rate for fatalities among older drivers is much higher than for most other age groups based on the number of miles driven. Studies indicate that seniors are much less likely to recover from injuries sustained in a collision due to frailty. This may explain why 18 percent of all Americans who died in collisions were seniors in 2015. In fact, older drivers are 17 times more likely to be killed in a collision than those aged 25-64. Sadly, the rate of fatalities increases for drivers aged 75, with an alarming rise after age 80.

Impacts of Aging on Driving 

As we age, we find ourselves limited in some ways that may, for some, impact safe driving. Some factors to consider include:

  • Use of medications that impact alertness;
  • Slowed reaction time;
  • Trouble focusing;
  • Medical conditions such as seizures;
  • Reduced vision or hearing;
  • Depth perception problems;
  • Limited grip strength or agility;
  • Limited range of motion;
  • Feelings of anxiousness.

Preventing Injuries 

Certain protective factors that improve outcomes for all drivers may have increased benefits for older drivers:

  • Wearing a seat belt;
  • Avoiding the road when unsafe conditions exist;
  • Limiting night driving;
  • Eliminating freeway driving;
  • Making sure a doctor clears you for driving while using your medications;
  • Leaving plenty of space between yourself and the vehicles ahead of you;
  • Minimizing distractions in the car;
  • Having regular vision checks;
  • Maintaining an exercise program to maximize strength and flexibility.

Elderly License Renewal in Florida 

Florida law requires individuals aged 80 or older to pass a vision test in order to renew their driver’s’ license. The standard for passing is 20/50 in both eyes. If one eye does not meet those criteria, the other eye must have 20/40 vision. The field of vision is also checked, and must be at least 130 degrees.

Some drivers, based on their driving record, or physical or mental limitations, may be reexamined and reevaluated. Beyond the vision test, this may involve an interview and/or a written test. In some instances, a restricted license may be issued with certain restrictions, including:

  • Corrective lenses;
  • Daylight driving only;
  • Geographic area limits;
  • Freeway driving not allowed;
  • Additional side mirrors.

After an Accident 

If your senior loved one is involved in a serious or fatal accident, you will no doubt be dealing with a heavy emotional toll. But the medical and legal problems must be addressed. Let our experienced personal injury team at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.


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