Florida is a haven for the elderly. Some, of course, are native Floridians aging at home. It’s interstate migration to Florida, especially of retirees, that swells their numbers. In terms of elderly percentages, 3 of the top 5 US counties are in Florida. Not surprisingly. old age and road accidents are front and center here.
The stereotypes of the elderly Florida driver have a basis in fact. We lead the nation in elderly drivers killed in road accidents. As the huge national population of baby boomers(born 1946-1964) advances in age, this will surely get worse. If things continue on present trends, by 2030 1 in 4 Florida drivers will be 65+.
OLD AGE AND ROAD ACCIDENTS
The “why” of it is not too hard to grasp. As we age, the sensory, motor, and cognitive assets we use to drive safely decline. Most official statistics define “elderly” as age 65 or older. We all know, though, that for most people 65 is not the same as 85. In fact, modern medical care is constantly extending our healthy and vigorous lives into our later years. People joke that “65 is the new 45”. There’s something to that.
THE EXAMPLE OF VISION
Vision is one of the senses whose decline with aging impacts driving. The State of Florida recognizes this by making drivers over 80 pass a vision test to renew their licenses. That helps, but some argue it doesn’t go far enough. For example, the NHTSA reports that some older drivers have trouble telling moving objects from still ones. This is not something the eye test would detect. Another example is presbyopia.
This begins to affect us in our 40s. Our eyes’ lenses become less flexible. We’re less able to focus on near and small things. Like the speedometer and other dashboard gauges. Our aging lenses take longer to refocus, too. Thus, it takes us longer to focus on the dashboard gauges, and longer to re-focus on the road. Bifocal glasses are one solution. Contact lenses offer another. One approach is a special lens which corrects one eye for the near distance. However, this negatively impacts distance vision. Another approach is “bifocal” contacts. One part of each lens corrects for near distance. The other part permits distance vision. One of the issues with these is they appear to reduce night vision.
NEGLIGENCE AND THE ELDERLY DRIVER
Elderly drivers injured in an accident can and should hire a personal injury attorney to pursue claims of negligence against the other party. People injured by elderly drivers should, too. In both cases, the elderly driver’s age-related capabilities will certainly be an issue. It’s not necessarily the case that an elderly driver who’s at fault is also negligent. The same general standards for negligence, beginning with a duty of care, apply. An experienced Boca Raton personal injury attorney familiar with the elderly driver scenario is the best recourse when an accident involves an older driver.