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Driver’s Ed for Elderly Lowers Risk of Lake Worth Car Accidents

They’ll tell you they’ve been driving longer than you’ve been alive, and they don’t need anyone’s help getting around.

But senior drivers over the age of 65 are at an increased risk for car accidents in Lake Worth and throughout Florida.

Even if your parent or grandparent has always been a cautious driver, the effects of age can have an impact on his or her sight, hearing and other senses that are crucial to avoiding an accident.

Our Lake Worth car accident attorneys know that almost any driver could benefit from a refresher road safety course. That’s the idea behind a new trend that is picking up speed across the country: driver’s education courses geared toward senior citizens.

A recent news report detailed a course in Miami sponsored by the AARP at the Kendall Regional Medical Center. For less than $15, drivers take the course in hopes of lowering their insurance rates. Topics cover everything from exercises to relax neck muscles and strengthen ankles to recommendations for specialized rear view mirrors that allow drivers to see more of what’s happening around them.

It’s a fact that over the next several years, we’re going to see an increase of older drivers on the road. Not only are people living longer, they are holding on to their licenses well into their 80s and some even in their 90s.

National transportation statistics conclude that for people between the ages of 65 to 69, nearly 95 percent still have a driver’s license. For people over the age of 70, almost 80 percent still have a license to drive. Compare that to almost three decades ago, when only about 55 to 75 percent retained the right to drive.

At the same time, the number of drivers younger than 40 decreased by 10 percent.

Across Florida, nearly 20 percent of residents are over age 65. They represent nearly 18 percent of all drivers on the road. By 2030, baby boomers older than 65 are going to comprise nearly 30 percent of the state’s population and a quarter of all drivers.

Some auto industry experts said manufacturers are exploring ways to make car models more senior-friendly. Others in the transportation industry say politicians need to make public transportation more available to the elderly.

While it’s true that as a whole, senior drivers are safer than teen drivers (they tend not to drive at night or during rush hour or speed), they still pose certain risks the older they get.

But those who teach the elderly driver’s education courses say many seniors want to hold on to their driver’s licenses for as long as they can – it’s a statement of independence.

Still, that independence shouldn’t come at the risk to others on the road.

These refresher driver safety courses geared toward seniors are an excellent resource. Sometimes, though, it’s time to turn in the keys.

If you believe your older relatives may be putting themselves or others at risk behind the wheel, you may need to have a difficult but necessary conversation. Try easing into the conversation at first. If that is not effective, be more direct, with phrases like:

“Even if you weren’t responsible for a crash, you could be seriously hurt or killed.”

“I know how awful you would feel if someone was injured when you were driving.”

“I can’t let the grandchildren ride in the car with you.”

“Let’s have a conversation with the doctor about it.”

If you or someone in your family has been involved in a traffic accident in Lake Worth or elsewhere throughout South Florida, contact Freeman, Mallard, Gonzalez & Sharp to discuss your rights. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-529-2368.

Additional Resources:

As senior drivers increase, so do safety efforts, By Ana Veciana-Suarez, McClatchy Newspapers

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Fatal Florida Crash Illustrates Need to Practice Safe Driving Habits

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