The country as a whole has a graying population, but Florida is a popular retirement destination, which means that the state has an even larger proportion of elderly drivers. This has created some challenges on the roads, but Florida has implemented many strategies in recent years to help drivers of all ages drive safely with fewer car accidents:
1) Mandatory eye testing. In 2004, Florida created a mandatory vision screening program for elderly drivers. The program required drivers over the age of 80 to submit to mandatory eye testing and to pass basic vision testing in order to continue driving. According to a study published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Florida law reduced fatal car accidents involving elderly drivers by 17%.
2) Improved road visibility. Since 1991, Florida has introduced a number of innovations to improve visibility on the roads. For example, state highway pavement stripes have been increased in size from 4 inches wide to 6 inches wide. Where middle-of-the-road reflective pavement markings were once 80 feet apart, they are now 40 feet apart. Florida has also increased more “advance” street signs (to give drivers more time to prepare for a turn) and has made street name signs larger.
3) More visible crosswalks. Since research has suggested that Florida pedestrian accidents are more common in cities with high percentages of elderly drivers, Florida has placed more “refuge islands” in the center of roadways and has included more high-visibility crosswalks to keep pedestrians safer and more visible.
4) Florida has created its own GrandDriver program. Based on the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators GrandDriver program, the Florida GrandDriver helps to educate and support elderly drivers who need to make adjustments to the way that they drive. The Florida GrandDriver program works with social workers, health care professionals, and senior organizations to raise awareness about the issues surrounding elderly driving decisions. The program also helps seniors find alternative means of transportation and helps them to make decisions about safe driving.
5) Improved public transit. Many cities across Florida have been offering public and alternative transportation to elderly drivers who can no longer drive safely and who need to give up their keys. Most cities offer easy-to-use public transit systems, senior discounts, and other incentives for the elderly.