How Old Is Too Old To Drive?

   By drodriguez  Jul 08, 2009

One aspect of daily life that older people often find hard to give up is driving.  We all know it is time to turn in the car keys when vision begins to fail or any other health condition becomes a factor.  But some people hold onto the car keys a little too long if they don’t recognize their deteriorating health or in an effort to stay as independent as possible in their senior years.  With the “baby boomer” generation expected to increase the sheer quantity of senior drivers in the next couple of decades, states across the nation are seeking a way to change regulations to make sure everyone’s driving safely into their golden years.

A recent article from USA Today discussed which states were making changes to assure older drivers were well enough to continue driving.  According to Census projections, Americans aged 65 and older will jump from 39 million in 2010 to 69 million in 2030.  Peter Kissinger, president of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reported to USA Today that currently 15% of all drivers in the U.S. are 65 and older, but by 2025 approximately one quarter of all drivers will be over 65.  Kissinger went on to say, “I really don’t think our society is ready for that.  We are not ready with respect to the kinds of issues older drivers face.”

This is why some states have begun to try new methods of testing aging drivers to make sure they can navigate roads safely.  California, for example, has begun issuing limited licenses which allow older drivers, after passing a test, to only drive on specific routes that they travel regularly.  And Maryland passed a law allowing police, doctors, and residents to refer unsafe drivers to the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Medical Advisory Board to be evaluated.

States have already begun to reap the benefits of new testing for the elderly.  After a Florida law was passed in 2004 that required older drivers to pass a vision test before getting a license renewed, the death rate among drivers 80 and older has gone down by 17 percent.  Thomas Meuser, a gerontologist at the University of Missouri, believes new regulations should be put in place for older drivers, but does not want them to be stereotyped as lousy drivers.  Meuser said, “Most older drivers are safe drivers.  The challenge is older drivers with either subtle but progressive health issues that affect them without their knowledge.”

What do you think of testing elderly drivers more often before renewing a license?

Do you think all states need to adopt new methods of testing older drivers?

Make a Comment

MZ_Overseas by MZ_Overseas | Houston, TX
Aug 06, 2010

My mother is 86 years old, in very good health. She enjoys the company of a 93 year old gentleman who drives about 45 minutes in each direction to see her. His insurance was recently cancelled due to a few fender benders. Although he did manage to obtain insurance it's apparent that he should probably not be driving. He knows his night-time vision is impaired and is careful to make sure he is home before dark. I have convinced my mother that it is not safe for her to be a passenger, but she does not know how to tell him. We are also concerned for his safety, but we definitely don't want her in the car WITH him. He is really a kind person and we don't want to hurt his feelings or to jeopardize their friendship. This would be so much easier if each state would provide a phone number to report someone you think might not be capable of driving responsibly. Does anyone have ANY insight that might help my mother hold on to her friend......and her life? Thank you for listening.

piscesgrly2 by piscesgrly2 | GALT, CA
Dec 23, 2009

I think that it would be better for the elferly get tested more, but I also think that people with eye problems also need to be tested more because things change, I am far sighted and have a slight astigmatism, so I know how much eyesight can change. My grandfather, for instance was very hard headed and stubborn. He didn't want to give up driving and his independence, so even when he drove into the ditch and said " I keep seeing these things go past me" which were cars; he would not admit he couldn't see well enough to drive. My parents tried taking his keys away; however he had made another copy and drove his pickup once again. He got his drivers license taken away from him, but he still kept driving. Then my parents took away that key and found any other keys, but then he hot wired his truck and drove it to his favorite restaurant. In conclusion, if the elderly want to drive they will, until they think they can't.

farmerbrown2002 by farmerbrown2002 | springfield, LA
Nov 02, 2009

I agree with a road test.After a certain age.Say perhaps 70 years old.Some eldery drive good some are hazards on the road.Had a mother in law that drove.Went to town with her.It was an experience.Refused to go back unless I drove.Thought we might hurt someone or us wit such driving.We ran stop signs,red lights.It was unbelievable.

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Sep 29, 2009

If you can no longer see you should not be driving whether you are 16 or 99.

Sep 17, 2009

I think past 80 is too old to drive and anyone reaching 70-75 should get their driving skills checked periodically!

October by October | FIRESTONE, CO
Sep 09, 2009

I think that they need to up the age for teen drivers to 18 and then for senior driver they should test them yearly after the age of 65.

Bell_Fein by Bell_Fein | WICHITA FALLS, TX
Sep 05, 2009

There should not be a set age. Testing should be done starting at a certain age and should be done, I believe, yearly. I do agree with rtennyso1. I guess it comes down to health rather than age. Such as eye health and mental health.

mrobin77 by mrobin77 | SOUTHSIDE, AR
Sep 02, 2009

There should not be a set age that people aren't allowed to drive because everyone is different. However, I do think that if a person starts having re-ocurring traffic violations or accidents that they should be reviewed or re-tested by the DMV.

dahref by dahref | Fort Worth, TX
Aug 28, 2009

Age is just a number. You can't determine if a person should drive or not because of their age. I know people in their 70's who I wouldn't ride with, people in their 80's I would ride with and people in their 30's no way I'm getting in a car with them behind the wheel.

aftertwilight102 by aftertwilight102 | Wills Point, TX
Aug 28, 2009

I myself have a grandmother who is no longer a truely safe driver, but no one else will back me up on finally taking away her keys. It is not an issue of just wether or not they can pass a vison test, I truely believe that at a certain point, a driving intructor should get in the car with them and test them while actually driving. My grandma vision is fine, that still doesn't stop her from periodically swerving into on coming traffic because she thinks it is the turn lane.

the7thh0rcrux by the7thh0rcrux | Mount Carmel, PA
Aug 21, 2009

I believe that there are great to horrendous drivers in any gender or age group. Some people 65 and older and healthier than people in their 20's or 30's. They need some sort of health test to distribute to any and all drivers regardless of age. We cannot just group people into stereotypes, we need to do our best to determine the abilities of each person and assess them individually, not just because of a number attached to them.

Samson2000 by Samson2000 | Dayton, NJ
Aug 19, 2009

It shouldn't be age that factors in as much as the physical limitations. If an elderly person is under a doctor's care, say for eye disease, lets put the responsibility on the doctor to notify the state of their limitations. I think all states should retest!

smemmolo by smemmolo | Malden, MA
Aug 18, 2009

I don't think there is a specific age were a person should stop driving. It depends on a persons health.

diji1519 by diji1519 | Saskatoon, OU
Aug 18, 2009

When they start having vision problems, lives are being put in danger.

rtennyso1 by rtennyso1 | aurora, CO
Aug 15, 2009

In society we tend to judge everything on age.... for example alchohol and cigarettes you have to be 18 and 21 if people really want to get these items they will whether they buy them or get them from someone/somewhere. Whos to say that older people shouldnt be able to drive younger people drive more wild if you ask me they have the need for speed older people just tend to hold up traffic but i really think its a case by case issue that needs to be addressed.