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Are older drivers making our road less safe?

Florida has long been the haven for retirees all over the United States as well as Canada. Senior citizens are living longer, and consequently, that puts a great deal more elderly people on the roads driving. But just how safe of drivers are they?

A 2013 report from states' data to the Federal Highway Administration determined there to be more than 23 million seniors 70 and older with valid driver's licenses. This number represents nearly 78 percent of that total age group.

These statistics indicate a growing trend of senior citizens to keep their driver's licenses longer. That age group continues to expand as well as the baby boomer generation ages. There was a 30 percent increase of drivers 70 and older in the 15-year period between 1997 and 2012.

Simply possessing a license doesn't equal driving, however, and data indicates that those 70 and older are driving an average of 45 percent fewer miles than their younger counterparts aged 35 to 54.

Yet senior citizens are actually driving more than in previous years. From the mid-90s to 2008, the average annual mileage for those 70 and up increased 42 percent.

One survey of 2,500 drivers over 64 revealed that those in that age group were more likely to self impose driving limitations if they suffered from debilitating conditions like memory impairment, decreased vision, limited mobility, diabetes, arthritis and other medical conditions.

They also travel shorter distances, make fewer trips and avoid driving after dark, in inclement weather and on freeways. However, there is a subset of seniors who fail to accommodate their limitations, even driving with serious cognitive impairment.

Such functional impairment can be exacerbated by challenging or stressful or situations like changing lanes and merging. Still, statistically speaking, elderly drivers are more of a hazard to themselves and any passengers, who also are likely to be senior citizens due to their frailties.

If you were injured in an accident with an at-fault senior citizen, it will likely be necessary to file a claim to recoup your losses.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Older drivers," accessed Aug. 27, 2015

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