How Old Is Too Old To Drive?

SS Member Image By drodriguez 07.08.09
How Old Is Too Old To Drive?

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?

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  • Janice183 By Janice183

    I don't think there should be a set age that people are not allowed to drive. I can see the Motor Vehicle Administration reviewing the persons driving record after a certain age(maybe around 70) if that person is pulled over for a traffic voilation or has an accident. Not all people age at the same rate. There are 2o-30 year olds out there that should not be driving just as well as 90 year olds.

  • Seritha89 By Seritha89

    I don't believe there should be a set age, but I do believe if you lack the ability to pass good judgment you should not drive. It bothers me when young or older people drive side by side on a two lane highway, or if they go too slow in the fast lane. These things are considered bad judgment. Also if you can't see without glasses, you sit too close to the steering wheel, you drive with two feet at all times, or you always have to have the high beams on, then you should consider letting someone else drive.

  • pcampo By pcampo

    I don't think it should be based on a persons age b/c drivers of all ages can drive bad. I do agree with more frequent testing for drivers over 65 though. My stepdad is 83 & really healthy for his age and his driving scares the beejesus out of me! It terrifies me to think that he could hurt others or himself while driving.

  • CorneliusGal By CorneliusGal

    My grandfather turned 93 yesterday and although he is amazingly healthy (healthier than my 60-year-old dad even!) it scares me that he still drives. I don't completely agree in unrealistic age limits on drivers, but I definitely think they need to have stringent driving tests after the person passes a certain age. Although I hate to say it, sometimes it is not so much that the elderly person that is an unsafe driver, but other drivers reactions that puts everyone at risk. For example, an elderly person driving very slow will frustrate someone to the point that they unsafely pass, tailgate, etc. There is just too much road rage out there... or at least in my city! ;)

  • BayBay77 By BayBay77

    I think it depends on the person and the state they live in. If it's big city or busy roads I think the age should 70 rural areas 75.

  • ruralmom By ruralmom

    States definitely need to test every couple of years after age 60. Vision and reaction time become factors for driving safety as people age. I see many elderly people who can't even see over the steering wheel. Every time I have a near miss on the road, the driver who almost hits me or pulls out in front of me is obviously elderly. We all need to stay safe on the road. It is better for older drivers to get a ride from someone than to kill someone on the way to the store.

  • Britnev By Britnev

    Thank you Florida for paving the way. Went I went for my first drivers license (20 years ago) an older couple were in line next to me. When they were called - both husband and wife went up. The wife, who was getting her license renewed, was asked to perform a vision test. Both myself and the staff assisting me watched as the husband coached her thru the vision test. Without him she would have failed. She could not even understand what was being asked. To think that she is out ( or was) out on the road driving is rather scary. I do not believe in age discrimination - but after a certain age, certain rules should be enforced for the safety of the driver and others.

  • am_i_lost By am_i_lost

    I don't think it should be an age it should be determined by each individuals ability. Testing more frequently as you get older mybe the ideal way to get this under control.

  • berned_you By berned_you

    We really need drivers tests every 10 years, maybe every 2 years after age 60.

  • jmrowe By jmrowe

    i think there needs to be a BEHIND THE WHEEL for senior citizens..its wrong to think that way but i have known so many older ppl that have had accidents and caused accidents and i just didnt see how they managed to do that. SOME ppl have slow reflexes and cant see as well as they did when they were younger...its pretty mean to say because if i was 65 or older AND they were thinking about passing a law such as this one...i would feel very sad

  • prt1984 By prt1984

    well I have had some bad run in with a few ederly people where they almost hit me and if they had we would of been killed,I have also seen elderly got through drive thru windows at wendys go in the wrong way and all kinds of stuff so I dont think you should drive once you get 70 I had an uncle who was getting to where he couldnt remember where he was and stopped right on the interstate and that was bad he could of been killed but luckly a cop lead him home.I fear for their lives and also I dont think you should be able to get a permit until they are19 and licsense at 21 there are to many accidents from teen drivers today who only want to play around kids do not respect the road or take it serious.

  • kailarl69 By kailarl69

    Honestly I agree with taylormom07. It would kind of be wrong to say that Senior Citizens shouldnt be able to drive but in a way it really makes sense. I just dont think its safe after a certain age unless you have a Health Record out of this world at age 65!

  • taylormom07 By taylormom07

    In my opinion, senior citizens 70 and older should be required to take a driver's test again every 3 years or so. I also agree with testing their vision and hearing as well. My great grandpa is 90+ and eventhough his reflexes are so much slower now and his vision and hearing are poor, he still has a drivers license! He hit a car not very long ago while trying to park, and he didn't even notice! It scares us all to think there are other people like him on the road!

  • barbarita By barbarita

    I think this is a very sensitive issue that does not have a clear-cut answer. I believe all drivers should be given a series of vision, hearing and other health tests to determine if they can safely operate a vehicle. This would reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused to pedestrians and other innocent drivers.

  • Annam74 By Annam74

    I think there should be a requirement to get re-tested yearly once you hit retirement age, whatever that should happen to be where you are. If you cannot safely maintain the flow of traffic, or do not see people or traffic signs, or cannot hear the sound of a horn, you should not drive. If you can't move quickly enough to respond fast in an emergency, you are a problem. This would not just be picking on a person because they are 70 or 80. Would also hopefully catch people whose reflexes are declining and they don't realize it. Of course, I also think that you should have to retake the drivers written exam regularly just to see if you are aware of new legislation (and old rules) - no matter how old you are.

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