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Why Are Many of Florida's Older Drivers Safer Than Younger Ones?

Older drivers tend to get a bad rap. However, a study done by the Automobile Association of America's Foundation for Traffic Safety found that they less likely to engage in unsafe driving behaviors than their younger counterparts.

Interestingly, older drivers seem to support greater restrictions for people of their generation. Over 70 percent of those surveyed said they favored requirements for drivers over 75 to pass medical screenings and to renew their licenses in person.

While it's easy to mock our parents' and grandparents' lack of familiarity with cellphones and other mobile devices, this is actually an important reason why they may be safer drivers. Only about one-third of drivers who were 75 or older reported that they had driven while using a cellphone, as opposed to 82 percent of drivers between 25 and 29. Virtually all older respondents (over 98 percent) said they had not used the Internet while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving was not the only dangerous driving behavior that older drivers eschewed. They also reported that they did not believe in driving while sleepy, without a seatbelt or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Nearly all of the drivers surveyed (99 percent) reported that they had never been in a car accident. This same percentage said they hadn't received a ticket for a moving violation in the past two years. Accident rates among drivers who are 65 or older seem to back this up these claims of safe driving. They have actually been declining.

While all of this is good news for those of us here in South Florida who share the roads with a number of older drivers, there are always exceptions. Many seniors have slow reaction times, suffer from confusion or are on medication that can impair their ability to safely operate a vehicle. While we can have sympathy for the fact that they don't want to give up the independence that driving gives them, they can and should nonetheless be held responsible if they are at fault for an accident that causes damage, injuries or worse.

Source: FindLaw, "Are Elderly Drivers Actually Safer Drivers?," Daniel Taylor, accessed April. 14, 2015

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