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Florida Laws Affecting Senior Drivers

Florida has the second-highest percentage of senior citizens, with 21% of the population being 65 or older. The ability to drive, for many seniors, offers the necessary mobility for remaining independent and active members of society. Elderly driving rights play a crucial role for many of Florida’s residents. While some may not think seniors are safe drivers, consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found senior drivers to exhibit safer driving behaviors compared to younger motorists. However, the CDC also reported that older drivers hold a higher risk of being killed in collisions or sustaining injuries. Fortunately, Florida has put rules in place to keep the roads safe without cutting the rights of elderly drivers short, such as changes to driver’s license renewal rules and driver improvement programs for older motorists. Read on to learn more about what Florida is doing to protect senior drivers and their right to drive. 

How The Aging Process Impacts Driving Skills

No matter how much you deny it, the natural aging process includes certain mental and physical changes, some of which can affect your ability to drive. The aging process itself isn’t the only thing that affects a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner. Doctor-prescribed or over-the-counter medications can also have side effects that impact driving ability. Some common ways the aging process can impair driving ability in the elderly are:

  • Hearing: Hearing deteriorates as you age, and could reduce your ability to hear car horns and sirens. 
  • Eyesight: It becomes harder to read traffic signs since your ability to see evolves as you get older. 
  • Reaction times and reflexes: A natural part of the aging process includes a reduced ability to react to situations and slower reflexes, making it more difficult to react in time when a car abruptly stops in front of you. Leaving sufficient space and driving at the speed limit can improve safety.

If you notice any of these changes, it’s essential to be honest with yourself and your doctor. Regular testing for eyesight, hearing, and reaction time, as well as consulting about medications with your doctor, is critical for senior drivers. 

Florida Laws For Senior Drivers

Some changes Florida has made to laws to improve road safety for elderly driving include:

  • Vehicle modification: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle may mandate equipment modifications optimized for older drivers, such as seat cushions or hand controls. They may also prohibit a senior from driving during nighttime or in a manual transmission car. 
  • Driver’s license renewal rules: Florida driver’s licenses are required to be renewed every eight years, but once drivers reach the age of 80 the renewal period is shortened to six years and includes passing a vision test.
  • Registration of emergency contact information: Seniors are allowed to register two emergency contacts for police to access in case of an accident.
  • Florida CarFit events: Throughout the year, the CarFit program has events for older drivers to consult with technicians who evaluate their vehicle and recommend safety modifications
  • Disabled parking permits: Disabled senior motorists may obtain permits through the FLHSMV to use handicap parking spaces
  • Insurance discount course for seniors: Drivers aged 55 and up may take an FLHSMV-approved course for a discount on their auto insurance if completed successfully.
  • ID cards: Older drivers who choose to surrender their driver’s license can receive a Florida identification card that can be used as a license at banks, airports, and other places requiring photo ID.

Contact Us Today

The loss of ability to drive doesn’t mean that seniors necessarily lose independence and mobility, if there is advance planning. If you think your elderly driving rights were threatened, call BCN Law Firm to consult with an experienced elder driving attorney today.