Older drivers at increased risk of South Florida car accidents

South Florida car accidents involving older drivers are a real danger. And, while the jokes about elderly Florida drivers abound, the truth of that matter is that we must all deal with assisting older motorists — even when it means the time has come to make the tough decision to surrender the freedom and independence that comes with driving.

Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic in the United States. According to AAA, the number of licensed drivers over the age of 65 will climb to 40 million over the next decade — and no, it’s not true that 39.5 million of them are expected to be in South Florida.

In response, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has teamed with a number of agencies in debuting a special program aimed at older Florida motorists.

“We want to provide drivers with resources that allow them to maintain their driving independence for as long as they can safely drive,” said Executive Director Julie Jones. “CarFit arms mature drivers with every advantage to make their road travels as safe as possible.”

The Car Fit program inspects an older driver’s vehicle to determine proper fit. Thirty-four employees have been trained and will offer inspections using a 12-point checklist to determine the best fit for a driver’s vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also offers resources for older drivers. In 2008, a total of 183,000 older drivers were injured in traffic crashes. In Florida, 474 drivers over the age of 65 were killed in traffic accidents.

The AAA Foundation for Highway Safety operates a website dedicated to senior driving safety. The site offers a wealth of information for older drivers and their families, including:

-A skills assessment

-Education and training for older drivers

-Planning for continued mobility (post driving)

-Measuring driving skills

-Screening test

-Advice on helping an older driver