A 92-year-old driver in Central Florida could be cited for failing to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle, resulting in the second vehicle careening off the road into a work crew, killing three.

crash13-300x239Early analysis indicates the elderly driver in Lake County was trying to make a right turn onto U.S. 27. But in so doing, he did not make his turn into the right-most lane, as required, but instead pulled into the center lane, causing him to collide with a vehicle driven by a 20-year-old woman. The impact sent the young woman’s vehicle into the work site, where utility workers were working in a roadside ditch. The workers killed, three men from Georgia, were 34, 35 and 40.

Authorities say the crash investigation could take months, but preliminary information suggests the elderly driver was at-fault. He will likely not face criminal charges, but the accident has sparked yet another discussion about the safety risks posed by elderly drivers. The Florida Highway Patrol reports there are some 100,000 registered drivers over the age of 90 in this state.

It’s worth noting if this driver is cited for the wreck, it will be his first ticket ever. It’s also important to point out authorities have not said the man’s age (i.e., failing eyesight, loss of hearing or cognitive deficiencies) had anything to do with the crash.

But certainly, many people at his age are struggling with those ailments – and more – and our Fort Myers car accident lawyers know many younger relatives struggle with how to open the discussion of when it might be time for an elder loved one to limit driving, or hang up the keys.

A recent study by AAA indicated 1 in 6 vehicles on the road today is being driven by someone who is 65 or older, and that figure is expected to grow as Baby Boomers reach retirement age. That same study indicated for the most part, seniors get a bum rap with regard to their perception as more collision-prone. When surveyed, 90 percent of older drivers say they haven’t received a ticket or been in an accident within the last 2 years. They also generally don’t talk on their cell phones while driving (about 34 percent over 75 say they have done it, compared to 85 percent of drivers between the ages of 25 and 39). What’s more, 8 in 10 of those older drivers favor health screenings for aging drivers, and the requirement to renew one’s driver’s license in person.

What’s more, fatalities among elderly drivers fell by 31 percent between 1997 and 2012.

Still, there remains concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following advice on how to discuss driving with an aging loved one:

  • Collect information before opening the conversation. Ride with your loved one while he or she is driving and observe whether they obey all traffic signals, yield appropriately, maintain a proper speed, make safe lane changes and stay in their correct lane.
  • Outside the vehicle, note things like confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, dizziness, loss of coordination or difficulty following simple instructions.
  • Ask for input from your loved one’s friends, neighbors and medical professionals.
  • Discuss any arising concerns with your loved one. Identify problems that might be correctable, whether he or she recognizes their driving limits (i.e., limiting driving to daytime hours) or whether alternative transportation options should be sought.
  • Once a plan is developed, review it periodically with your loved one.

Of course, we want to see our loved ones happy and independent for as long as possible. That’s why it’s best if the change is gradual. The NHTSA recommends contacting local chapters of AAA, the AARP, area agencies on aging and driver rehabilitation specialists who may be able to help guide the discussion and plan of action.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

FHP: Elderly man in crash that killed 3 has clean driving record, April 3, 2015, By Desiree Stennett, Orlando Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Truck Driver Awarded Workers’ Compensation After Falling Asleep at the Wheel, April 4, 2015, Fort Myers Accident Lawyer Blog