A recent study by researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham has confirmed that Florida’s mandatory vision testing for elderly drivers has greatly reduced the number of traffic fatalities. In 2004, Florida passed a law requiring all drivers 80 years old or older to undergo vision tests.
The researchers compared the rate of traffic fatalities from the three years prior to the law passing to the three years after the law passed.
In the three years before the law was passed in 2004, Florida had 14.91 motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 a year overall and 14.88 for drivers or riders 80 and older.
In the three years after the law was passed, the rates increased slightly for all ages, to 15.21 per 100,000, but dropped to 12.34 percent for senior citizens.
As a comparison, the rates of death of elderly drivers in Alabama and Georgia remained stable during this same time period.
Personally, I think this study is promising. It’s no secret that there is a question in this country about how to deal with the safety aspects of elderly drivers. It’s not clear to me whether the requirement of a vision test requires drivers to do what they can to improve their vision or is simply a deterrent that has encouraged the riskiest of the elderly drivers to get off the road. Regardless, it seems a simple solution that can help improve safety for everyone.