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Florida leads nation in senior citizen traffic fatalities

As America's population ages and more and more senior citizens get behind the wheel, there is likely to be more fatal traffic accidents involving elderly drivers. According to a recent study by the transportation research group TRIP, nearly 300 senior citizens were killed on Florida roads in 2010, more than any state in the nation. In addition, 503 traffic fatalities in the state involved senior drivers.

Currently, those aged 65 and older make up 20 percent of Florida's driving population. This number is expected to rise to 25 percent in less than two decades. Safety advocates note that this increase may contribute to more senior car accident fatalities in the future.

Though motor vehicle accidents can happen to anyone at any time and at any age, those driving in an unfamiliar state may be especially prone. For many Florida residents, this is exactly the case. Much of the state's 65-and-older population is composed of persons who are new to the region, having moved to the Sunshine State to live out their retirement. Others ostensibly may be snow birds, traveling to Florida for the winter.

Across the nation, baby boomers are living longer and driving older. As this occurs, some believe that changes to transportation programs are in order. The organization Floridians for Better Transportation is one such group. Possible changes might include improved signage or safer automobiles.

In Texas, 10.7 senior deaths were reported for every 100,000 drivers. This number was around 9.9 in Florida and 6.9 in California. The TRIP study made no recommendations for heightened restrictions on senior drivers, but it's clear that government needs to do something to either make driving safer or create incentives for seniors to use alternate transportation. The alarming numbers don't just affect seniors; they affect all drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Source: NBC Miami, "Florida Has Highest Number of Seniors Killed in Car Accidents: Study" Karen Franklin, Feb. 24, 2012

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