By: Tiffany Lewis | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 1, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Department of Transportation is working to ensure that the growing population of senior citizens stays safe on the roadways.
Florida leads the nation in senior citizen population. In fact, 1 in 5 drivers behind the wheel are age 65 or older. By 2030, it will be 1 in 4.
With the elderly population rising, a group of safe driving organizations have come together to form the "Florida Safe Mobility for Life Coalition."
They are aiming to improve access and mobility of Florida's aging population, while reducing their crash, injury, and fatality rates.
"As we all age, our bodies become a little bit more fragile, so if an older person is involved in the same crash as a younger person is involved in, the chance of injury and death is greater," said W.B. WIlliams of AAA. "So that's why it becomes so important to make sure that our seniors understand what they can do to mitigate the risk when they're driving."
In a recent study, AAA found that 90 percent of senior drivers don't make vehicle adjustments that can improve safety while driving.
"A steering wheel cover, for example, if you have arthritis can make it much more comfortable to hold the wheel and manipulate the wheel than without the steering wheel cover," Williams said. "You can also include a seat pad or seat cushions in the drivers seat, it can help align your visibility."
The coalition is working to make these adjustments and resources easier for seniors to access.
Bart Cassidy of the American Safety Institute also wants to remind families that there are resources when making the difficult decision to take a loved one's keys.
"If you can get a third party involved sometimes, that will give this an honest estimate," Cassidy said. "We've had people come in here and their kids say 'oh my god this is the end of the world' and we take them out and they're not that bad. Yes, their skills are diminished, but they're not at the point where you say give me your keys you can't drive anymore."
For more information on the Florida Safe Mobility for Life Coalition, you can visit www.flsams.org.