On a sunny Saturday afternoon in February, 73-year old Gloria Couch Blanton was out for a drive in her Lincoln Town Car. Ms. Blanton made her way into an eastbound lane of Interstate 10. Unfortunately, the Jacksonville woman drove west. She proceeded the wrong way on I-10 until she struck an eastbound Ford Ranger head-on. Ms. Blanton died at the scene. The 58-year-old driver of the pickup truck her car struck was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
This scene is repeated far too often across Florida and the United States. As a complex task involving cognitive, emotional and physical skills, driving ability declines with age. For those in the path of an elderly driver, the consequences can be deadly.
Safety Tips for Seniors
Mobility at any age is important. For seniors in Florida, programs exist to match the elderly with safe transportation options. Tips to maintain safety on the road for elderly drivers include:
- Stay healthy: Driving takes physical strength and coordination. See your doctor annually or as needed. Have your vision checked and corrected regularly. Walk, stretch and exercise to maintain muscle strength and flexibility.
- Make sure your car fits: The Automobile Association of America offers a CarFit program to help seniors drive their cars safely and comfortably.
- Assess your driving abilities honestly: Are you having trouble navigating busy roads or checking blind spots before changing lanes? Have you been in an accident or near-accident recently? Are family members and friends encouraging you to address problems with your driving?
Ms. Blanton drove until she could drive no more. It cost her life and almost took the life of another person. If you are older, or know someone who is, it might be time to start the conversation about when to hang up the keys. And if you are injured by an elderly driver in Florida, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney in Jacksonville.
Florida personal injury attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this blog post.