Do you know a senior driver who is dangerous behind the wheel?
Chances are if you live in Fort Myers or Cape Coral you have seen a dangerous senior driver. What do you do when you know that a senior is no longer safe to drive?
Fort Myers and Cape Coral have many senior residents. Some of these senior drivers may be unsafe behind the wheel.
Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Lee County are known for their beaches, tourism, snowbirds, and senior population.
Because Abby Services is known as one of the leaders in senior care, we often have families asking what they should do about a parent, neighbor, or loved one who is a senior driver and has become unsafe behind the wheel. This is often a sensitive subject and one that can be challenging to manage.
Concerning statistics about senior drivers.
The following statistics from The IIHS (The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety) are alarming:
- Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older.
- A total of 5,195 people ages 70 and older died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019. This is a 38 percent increase since 1975.
- Among passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019, the proportion of multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections increased steadily starting at ages 65-69. Multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 40 percent of fatal crash involvements among drivers 80 and older, compared with 20 percent for drivers ages 16-59.
- Among adults 70 and older, the rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in 2019 was highest for people ages 80-84.
More worrisome still, senior drivers 80 and older have higher crash death rates than any other group except teenage drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (One reason: senior drivers are physically more frail than other drivers and thus more likely to die in a crash.)
Have a discussion about your concerns with your senior driver.
Once you have identified that a senior driver may be unsafe behind the wheel the first step should be to have a serious discussion with the individual you are concerned about.
This is sometimes best done in advance before their driving is a concern.
- Ask the senior driver when they believe it is no longer safe for them to drive. Often times they may have very realistic impressions about their abilities and safety.
- Ask them to commit to relinquishing their driving privileges when it becomes unsafe.
A professional senior driver evaluation may be necessary.
Sometimes an unsafe senior driver may not be conscious of the fact that they are unsafe. They may also not have the mental capacity to independently make that decision.
In these cases, it may be a good option to involve their physicians. A physician can make a professional evaluation (or an appropriate referral) and make a recommendation based on their professional opinion. This is usually coming from a trusted source based on an independent examination.
What if a conversation isn't possible?
There are a number of reasons why a conversation about unsafe driving may not go well with a senior driver. Another option is to anonymously report an individual to the DMV. Here is a link to the form used in Florida.
Once submitted, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles conducts an investigation to ensure there is cause to initiate a review of the senior driver.
- If the cause is shown, the senior driver is advised they are under medical review and are asked to provide medical information from their physician to the Department.
- Once received, the information is provided to the Department’s Medical Advisory Board.
- After review, the Medical Advisory Board provides a recommendation regarding the individual’s ability to drive.
- This recommendation may be to:
- Require additional information from the driver
- Require the driver to re-take the driving test.
- Revoke/deny a license.
- If a license is denied/revoked, the driver may request an administrative hearing to appeal the decision.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has a brochure that reviews medical conditions and driver safety.
This brochure is good to review with your senior driver.
More information for senior drivers.
Abby Services can help those who are unable to safely drive by finding caregivers who can help them with groceries, at appointments, or simply socialize.
The following resources can be especially helpful for families and seniors: