In states where large amounts of young and old drivers interact, such as Florida, there is a classic and raging debate as to which group is the least safe: whether it’s the elderly, with their sometimes impaired reaction times and senses, or the teens who have less experience behind the wheel and poorer impulse control. The infographic included in this article shows the statistics for both groups, demonstrating that the issue is not necessarily clear-cut. All in all, both groups have problems with safety on the roads; though some national studies seem to indicate that elderly drivers are not the bane of everyone else on the road as a rule, the statistics seem to show a definite edge to the elderly in the state of Florida in terms of crashes involving elderly drivers. Those involved in a car accident should retain the services of an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney as quickly as possible to preserve their rights to compensation.
The state of Florida has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in the number of senior citizens killed in car accidents; the state is also a leader in crashes involving teens and fatal crashes involving teenaged drivers. There are several reasons that car accident lawyers have so much work in the state. For one, because the state is a tourist destination, there are a large number of drivers on the road for six months out of the year who have memorized the vehicle codes for other states—which in many cases are not the same codes as exist in Florida. Different states have different statutes regarding issues such as right-of-way, signaling a turn, and how to handle flashing traffic lights and four-way stops. The confusion of motorists from outside of the state can make it more difficult for native drivers of all ages to remain safe on the roads. When you add to this issue the fact that many drivers are distracted, then it becomes even more difficult for safety to be maintained.
Teenagers account for just 4.5% of all drivers in Florida, and in 2012 were involved in 8% of the car accidents in the state. The most dangerous drivers among the teens statistically were nineteen-year-old females. The leading causes of car accidents among teen drivers included inexperience, speeding, alcohol and distractions. Some studies from across the nation have determined that in general, teens are becoming more aware of the dangers of texting while driving—likely thanks to initiatives in advertising by cellphone companies and insurance providers, aimed at raising recognition of the problem—but there are still many who use their phones while driving, which is incredibly unsafe. Florida’s texting while driving ban recently went into effect; however, the ban doesn’t make the activity itself a crime. It can only be added on to an existing traffic stop if a police officer notices it. Alcohol consumption was a factor in about 4% of crashes among Florida’s teens in 2012, contributing to a slight increase in the number of auto accident claims that had to be overseen by auto accident attorneys.
On the other side of the debate, the elderly are considered to be unpredictable drivers everywhere in the nation, although statistical studies do not always support this belief. However, in Florida, there is a clear indication of at least a slight danger associated with older drivers. Due to the elderly population in Florida being larger than in many other states, older drivers account for 20% of all drivers in the state. The statistics regarding elderly drivers and accidents are somewhat grim; while 75 teen drivers were killed in car accidents in 2012, 221—more than double the number—of elderly drivers were killed as a result of auto accidents. Overall, older drivers were involved in 11% of all accidents that occurred in the state last year, with the most common causes including poor judgment in making left turns, decreased ability to react quickly, and inability to maintain control of the car within the lane. Alcohol is involved in fewer crashes among the elderly; 3% of the fatal crashes among the elderly in 2012 involved alcohol. Among the older population in Florida, 70-year-old male drivers are the most dangerous, causing the most car accidents in the group.
While there are dangers for each of these groups when driving in the state, it’s clear that at least as far as traffic patterns in Florida are concerned, elderly drivers are at least slightly less safe compared to teen drivers. There may also be an element of confidence as an accident cause. While teen drivers are less experienced, they are also in some cases more cautious, because driving has not become commonplace to them. Elderly drivers should be careful in their goal of maintaining their driving records; frequent eye exams are needed as individuals age. Some citizens have also suggested periodic re-testing of elderly drivers to make sure that their reaction times are what they should be. The issue is complex, and many a Boca Raton personal injury lawyer has an opinion on how the situation should be managed.
Zimmerman & Frachtman are South Florida personal injury attorneys who have built a national reputation for handling catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful death cases. Specializing in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, product liability and more, Zimmerman & Frachtman have recovered more than $180 million in verdicts and settlements for their clients.