Aging drivers in Florida
They have taken care of you for most of your life…They have loved you, supported you and watched you grow, and now you are faced with possibly being the one to take the keys to the car and tell them they can no longer drive. Nobody wants to deal with this situation but more and more, this is becoming a common scenario.
Statistics show that about 10, 000 Americans turn 65 years old each day, and almost 1 in 6 people in the U.S. will over 65 by 2020. While many people continue to drive safely for many years after retirement, some will experience noticeable changes to their eyesight and reflexes. Making decisions about when it’s time for someone to stop driving falls on the shoulders of family and caregivers, lawmakers, and insurance companies.
Elizabeth Dugan, an associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of “The Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families” says “Right now, everyone waits until there’s an accident or a health event but you have to be able to see, think and move to operate the car, and if you have limits on any of those, you have to consider the impact on your driving.”
Dugan feels that family member and caregivers are often in the best position to judge an elderly driver’s cognition, mobility and vision and get them off the road if need be.
Dugan advocates that aging drivers be required to renew their licenses in person. Most states already do this, but 14 states, including Florida, allow seniors to continue renewing their licenses by mail or e-mail.
Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have additional requirements for older drivers, starting as early as age 65, including more frequent renewals and vision and road testing. Motorists in Florida must renew every 6 years starting at age 80 and must pass a vision test. Is this frequent enough and does this start early enough? This is a tough call for lawmakers when statistics show that the elderly are some of the least dangerous in that they are less likely to speed or drive under the influence and more likely to wear their seatbelts.
Observing a loved ones driving and functionality may be the best strategy, rather than trying to gauge by someone’s age, Also, planning and putting the proper support system in place could do wonders for preventing someone from feeling like they have lost their freedom to do things. After all, they have spent their lives taking care of us – the least they deserve is for us to take good care of them.