This is the second part of Seniors & Driving. In this section, we will cover what is required for Seniors to keep their license & what to do if they are having problems driving.
Floridians 79 years of age or under are issued an eight-year license which can be renewed by mail or in person. Driver’s age 80 or older are issued a six-year license. All Florida drivers 80 years of age or older are required to pass a vision test when obtaining or renewing a driver license. The test may be taken at a Florida driver license office at no additional charge. If you pass this vision test, you may continue the process to obtain or renew your license. If you do not pass the vision test, you must have an eye specialist licensed in Florida complete the Report of Eye Examination form and submit it to the DHSMV before you can continue the process to obtain or renew your license. If your license is revoked as a result of poor vision but improves after treatment, you may apply to get your driver license restored by having your eye specialist complete an updated eye exam report. Florida has a Medical Advisory Board (MAB) that consists of doctors who advise the DHSMV on medical criteria and vision standards as they relate to the privilege of having a Florida driver license. The board also reviews medical/vision reports and makes recommendations regarding a person’s ability to drive safely.
There might be simple items that you can do to change your habits of driving. Simple steps such as relative ease of making three right hand turns, rather than a risky left-hand turn, in the face of oncoming traffic. This is an especially useful tactic, since a large number of traffic accidents involve left-hand turns at intersections, Drive in daylight, but not at night, Drive during off-peak traffic hours, Participation in a driver refresher course could have other positive benefits, such as reduced automobile insurance premiums. Evaluate your needs, making sure the vehicle “fits” you properly, choosing appropriate features, installing and knowing how to use adaptive devices, practicing good vehicle maintenance
At some point it most likely will become necessary to give up the keys.
Often, a major conflict confronting family caregivers revolves around efforts to persuade – or force – an older relative to give up the keys. No single sign can be taken as a warning that the person is at risk or is an unsafe driver. But if you observe several of the warning signs, you should strongly consider taking action to help. In addition to your own and others’ observations about the older driver, encourage the person to evaluate his or her own driving performance.
Several organizations have free self-assessment guides that a person can use. A self-assessment cannot solely determine whether or not the person is a safe driver. You will need to look at options for formally assessing driving skills, and transportation resources other than driving available in the community. Remember that it is hard for people to cut back on or stop they’re driving if they are not ready to do so, or if they believe they are good drivers. Major lifestyle changes are never easy. There are online sites which offer classes, information for the Seniors to check on how items can effect their driving, such as vision problems, medication, hearing problems, etc one such site is www.seniordriving.aaa.com. If you still believe that there is a safety problem, work together to develop a written action plan. These plans can be found on web sites such as www.nhtsa.gov/Senior-Drivers, ww.flsams.org, www.thehartford.com/resources/mature-market-excellence or www.seniortransportation.net
Older adult drivers should be deeply involved in every step of their transportation planning and implementation process. Doing so demonstrates that family members respect the older person’s opinions and needs, are genuinely concerned about the older person’s safety, and have given the issue significant thought, time, and attention.
If needed, you can report the senior as an unsafe driver, which will start the process to have that driver reviewed to see if they are a safe driver. The report will be kept confidential and by Florida Statutes, provides that “Any physician, person, or agency having knowledge of any licensed driver’s or applicant’s mental or physical disability to drive…is authorized to report such knowledge to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles…” It further states that these reports shall be confidential and that no civil or criminal action may be brought against any physician, person, or agency who provides the information. After the DHSMV receive a report regarding an unsafe driver, they will notify the reported driver that they need to take action. Investigators may interview family members, neighbors, or the driver’s physician as part of the investigation. As a result, drivers may be requested to submit a medical report from their physician, or they may be required to report to a driver license office for re-testing if necessary. If the investigator does not find any substance or validity to the complaint, no further action is taken. The form can be found at www.flhsmv.gov/floridagranddriver/reportUnsafeDriver.html