Stricter vision test are being sought after by the family of a teenager who was killed in January 2014. He died in a car crash caused by an elderly motorist who was legally blind.
Sean Parke, 17, was driving his 2006 Suzuki 20 miles per hour above the 45 mph speed limit. He rode chaotically through traffic, whizzing in and out of cars with his motorcycle and even following vehicles ahead of him too closely, according to a Florida Highway Patrol homicide investigation.
Evelyn Miozza was driving her 2008 Dodge Caravan in south Fort Myers on Cypress Lakes Drive. The investigation found that the speed Parke was traveling was a significant factor when Miozza, 78, crashed into his motorcycle. The crash occurred around 2 p.m. and the elderly woman was driving at 17 mph, according to the investigation.
Miozza saw black shadows, which she assumed were distant to her, leading the elderly woman to make the left turn and hitting Parke. Unbeknownst to her, cars and pedestrians were nearby as Miozza is legally blind without glasses.
She was found 85 percent responsible for Parke's death. The teenager's family was recently awarded $5 million for the wrongful death.
The father, Edward Parke, has been advocating for changes in the vision check program conducted by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
However, an optometrist in Fort Myers said that laws don't necessarily have to be stricter.
"People just need to take better care of their eyes," Dr. Frances Wilhelm said.
Laws for bikers and motorist in Florida requires drivers have at least 20/50 vision. If a driver has vision worse than 20/50, he or she should see a vision specialist.
"It’s not that the state is permitting them -- it’s just that the state doesn’t know," Dr. Willhelm said, "We don’t know that our field of vision isn’t good. We’re putting ourselves in jeopardy or someone else in jeopardy cause we’re just not going to the doctors."
The Division of Motor Vehicles requires drivers in the state of Florida to renew their licenses every eight years. Drivers 80 years or older have to renew their license every six years.
As people age, they are prone to have medical issues with their eyes.
Dr. Willhelm says for older drivers, it’s especially important to see an optometrist to have their eyes treated. These simple steps will maintain eye health so the senior drivers can continue to operate a motor vehicle safely.