MILTON —Santa Rosa Medical Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 16 will host an AARP Smart Driver Class for seniors ages 55 and older. The class is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members, and will educate attendees on safe driving strategies.
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 19 elderly adults die in motor vehicle crashes each day, and 712 injured.
There are currently 40 million licensed elderly drivers in the United States — a 50 percent increase from 20 years ago.
Involvement in fatal crashes begins increasing among drivers ages 70‒74, and is highest among drivers ages 85 and older, according to the CDC. This has been attributed to an increased vulnerability to injury and medical complications among older drivers rather than an increased risk of crash involvement.
Age-related declines in vision and ability to reason and remember, as well as physical changes, may affect some older adults’ driving abilities, the CDC says.
Approximately 60 percent of drivers and passengers ages 65-74, and 71 percent of ages 75 and older, were wearing seatbelts at the time of a car crash. Wearing a seat belt helped prevent serious injury or death in many crashes involving elderly adults. Seat belt usage in younger adults is much lower, ranging from 37 percent for ages 21-24, to 54 percent for ages 55-64.
According to the CDC, older drivers tend to limit their driving during bad weather, at night and on high-speed roads in comparison to younger drivers. Older adult drivers are also less likely to drink and drive than other adult drivers. In 2015, 6 percent of drivers ages 75 and older involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher, compared to 28 percent of drivers ages 21-24 years.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle’s latest statistics from 2016 states the following crash information for elderly adults:
Ages 60-64: 101 fatal, 866 incapacitating, 2,502 non-incapacitating and 24,527 crashes with no injuries
Ages 65-69: 99 fatal, 655 incapacitating, 2,141 non-incapacitating and 18,595 crashes with no injuries
Ages 70-74: 80 fatal, 443 incapacitating, 1,479 non-incapacitating and 12,580 crashes with no injuries
Ages 75-79: 60 fatal, 295 incapacitating, 1,017 non-incapacitating and 8,197 crashes with no injuries
Ages 80-84: 51 fatal, 231 incapacitating, 729 non-incapacitating and 5,014 crashes with no injuries
Ages 85-89: 41 fatal, 133 incapacitating, 409 non-incapacitating and 2,815 crashes with no injuries
Ages 90 and older: 27 fatal, 92 incapacitating, 356 non-incapacitating and 3,651 crashes with no injuries