The holidays are often a chance to spend time with friends and relatives. Unfortunately, for many of us, that means we had a chance to notice the mental and physical decline of older family members, and that's something we have to keep in mind all year long. Our injury attorneys in West Palm Beach know elderly adults are not only at greater risk of being involved in collisions, but also face higher risks of being seriously injured.
In 2015, nearly 7,000 senior adults died as a result of motor vehicle accident injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Older drivers often see driving as their key to independence. But the truth of the matter is that seniors involved in a motor-vehicle collision often face lengthy recovery and may never regain the former independence they enjoyed.
In too many cases, an older driver may also be wrongly blamed for causing a collision.
Senior driver safety is a major concern in our area and nationwide
Senior driver safety is a serious and growing issue on the nation's roads as our population continues to age. There were more than 40 million licensed older drivers on the nation's roads in 2015, a 50 percent increase compared to 1999.
Florida has some excellent resources for seniors, including the Florida Grand Driver program, which offers self-assessment tools, information about the impact of medication on driving, tips for aging drivers and a tool to report unsafe driving.
Medications used by many older adults often carry hidden risks. Common medications for arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and depression may result in dangerous side effects, including drowsiness and confusion.
Florida law requires a vision test for drivers over age 80 and issues licenses with a six-year renewal, instead of the typical eight-year license for most adult drivers. When it comes to the impact of aging on driving, hearing and vision are two of the biggest factors. Safety advocates suggest older drivers should also have their hearing checked annually, turn off the radio, and use air conditioning and heaters on lower settings to reduce noise.
Safety precautions can help to protect older adults on the road
Often, transitioning to a living arrangement that requires less driving can be a great way for senior drivers to ensure future independence and mobility. While it can be a big step, moving to an area with readily available public transportation or nearby shopping can reduce risks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a number of tools for older drivers and caregivers, including advice on counseling older drivers.
Seniors who are injured in motor vehicle accidents should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury law firm. Seniors recovering from serious injury may face significant inpatient rehabilitation and other financial and social costs of injury. Documenting the crash and identifying all contributing cause and at-fault parties is critical when it comes to protecting any motorist's rights. But with older drivers more likely to be blamed and more likely to be seriously injured, experienced legal help becomes even more critical.