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Port St. Lucie car accidents involving older drivers a growing concern

While it is a sensitive issue, the fact of the matter is that elderly drivers are at increased risk of being involved in a Port St. Lucie car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 31 million older drivers on the road in 2007, an increase of nearly 20 percent from a decade ago. And that number is expected to explode in the coming decade as the Baby Boomers hit the road to retirement. Perhaps nowhere will it be a bigger issue than in Florida, Arizona and other states favored by retirees.
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Helping an older adult decide when it’s time to hang up the keys is a discussion that “is happening all across the United States in families up and down the streets every day,” said Elinor Ginzler, a senior vice president of AARP. “It’s a huge issue.”

In 2008, more than 183,000 senior citizens were involved in traffic accidents. Seniors were involved in 474 fatal car accidents in Florida — the most of any state in the nation.

And seniors are hanging on to their driver’s licenses for longer than ever before. The percentage of people over the age of 70 who remain licensed to drive has increased in the last decade, from 73 percent to 78 percent, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. And drivers who are 75 or older are twice as likely to say they plan to drive into their 90s than those who are 65 to 74.

They are also most at-risk: A government study found that those over the age of 75 were more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers in any other age group.

“In the old days, or even 20 years ago, people just did not live long enough for this to be a problem,” Elin Schold-Davis, head of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Initiative, told the USA Today. “People are living with a level of impairment that is unprecedented.”

That includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Some states are seeking to enact tighter restrictions for older drivers. Massachusetts recently enacted a law requiring driver’s license renewals to occur in person for some senior drivers. Like most driving safety issues, Florida has done nothing to address the issue.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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