A growing issue in our country that gets a lot of attention but little action is what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has called “the real and growing problem of older driver safety”: the dangers that elderly drivers can pose to other people on the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks of our country.
Older drivers do not get in as many car accidents as teenagers overall, but they also drive less: when statistics are adjusted for accidents per miles driven the numbers begin to climb in people’s 70s, jump steeply at 80, and by 85 the demographic has the highest fatal accident rate per mile of any age group. As the baby boomer generation ages these numbers are set to grow substantially: currently there are about 34 million drivers 65 or older on the roads in America; by 2030 that number will have climbed to around 57 million. California has the largest number of drivers over the age of 65, closely followed by Florida, where people of retirement age make up a fifth of licensed drivers.
AARP categorically opposes any testing standards based on age alone, regardless of public safety concerns.
There is no national standard regarding licensing and/or retesting elderly drivers, and the issues is handled in drastically different ways in different states. In Florida, drivers over the age of 80 must begin renewing their licenses in person every six years, and pass a vision test. And certain medical conditions can allow the state to require additional restrictions on driving such as:
- No driving after dark;
- Vehicle must be equipped with an automatic transmission, power steering, and mechanical turn signals;
- Hand controls or pedal extensions required;
- Additional sideview mirrors required;
- Steering wheel knob or grip required; and
- Booster seat required.
Under certain circumstances any person, not just seniors, may be required to have their driving skills re-evaluated. Factors for this include the driver’s physical or mental condition, certain health conditions, and driving record events. The reexamination will consist of an interview, vision test, written test covering the rules and regulations of the road, and a driving test. After the evaluation the hearing officer will then make a decision about if any action should be taken, like restrictions on driving, probationary periods, suspension of the license for a period of time, or revocation of driving privileges.
Reporting Unsafe Drivers
Many states, Florida included, have systems set up to report drivers that residents feel are unsafe to be on the roads. Section 322.126(2), (3), of Florida Statutes, provides that “Any physician, person, or agency having knowledge of any licensed driver’s or applicant’s mental or physical disability to drive…is authorized to report such knowledge to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles…”. These reports are anonymous, though they require the reporting person provide contact details in case additional information is required, and the law exempts anyone who files a report from any civil or criminal action for it.
Contact A Local Automobile Accident Attorney
Society expects that people be able to recognize when they are no longer able to safely drive a car, but unfortunately for various reasons people still choose not to relinquish their driver’s licenses when that time comes. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of the negligent actions of others, contact a local auto accident attorney to discuss your options. By pursuing a claim you can not only recover for your losses, you can also help prevent similar harm befalling others.