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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  • bigjules911 By bigjules911

    As a 911 dispatcher I know firsthand just how much age affects driving. I've dispatched countless police, ambulance, and first responders to wrecks caused by elderly drivers. I'm not saying younger people don't cause accidents too, I'm just saying that as people get older they're health, eyesight, hearing, and reflexes deteriorate. There should definitely be more testing when people get to a certain age to ensure safer roads.

  • JanJan51 By JanJan51

    I think it should be a mandatory doctor's checklist to pass/fail for serious physical and mental abilities in order to keep a license. I suggest that anyone who has trouble walking should not drive because their reflexes don't work. Also, there are a lot of early stage alsheimer drivers that won't give up their license as they don't think anything is wrong with them. It's so hard for family to talk them out of driving anymore, but if the doctor tells them, it would be an easier transition.

  • milly79 By milly79

    The problem is thier is plenty of people out here that are young and can not drive or use the cars as weapons. I think as long as they drive and are safe who are we to tell them they can't. I hate the fact that when they get older they have noone around and their children or grand children should pitch in and help out like that we won't have to worry about it. I took care of both my parents, yeah it takes a tool on you but they made me so I thought it was just right to take care of them when the time came. Why put them in a home when they get abused and treated like a piece of garbage.

  • jenndta69 By jenndta69

    The problem with this is, that if they don't get any tickets or anthing, they are not tested for at least 4 years. When you get to a certain age, 4 years is too long. Our eyes change, hearing, reflexes, everything. The DMV should just pick an age whether it's 70 or whatever and start having these drivers tested at least yearly. It's for all of us. My mother is going to be 69 this month, I can honestly tell you, she's never been a good driver. So, it will get worse. Too many accidents have happened with older drivers and something needs to be done. We can't worry about hurting peoples feelings or some sort of discrimination. This is a safetly issue, not a right, but a privlidge!

  • sparke30 By sparke30

    Good Greif! I live in Arizona on the outskirts of Sun City...where older people go to retire. I deal with older drivers DAILY! I feel at the age of 60 people should be tested yearly and over 70 they should be tested 2-3 times a year! Eye site and reflexes tend to get worse with age and I cant tell you how many times I have almost been in an accident because of the older generation. And this would include me when I reach that age.

  • SiLvEr-StArS By SiLvEr-StArS

    Well, I think they should of looked into this a long time ago. And I think the age limit should be 75+. Should not be or get behind the wheel. But I think people that are 75+ years of age should get some transportation, if they can't drive.

  • Groovyduo By Groovyduo

    We've known for years certain abilities decline with age. And yes, you can test several people and get a wide range of abilities or handicaps. We don't all age the same; however, one can take the average age where these issues are prevalent and begin testing at that age. It's a preventative measure. It's no different than doctors saying one should get their first mammogram or colonoscopy at a certain age (based on the same: statistical data and averages). Plus, how much relief would be granted to loved ones. If you've ever had to take the keys from a parent or grandparent, then you understand. You might turn a blind eye to their decline for a bit, but you can't ignore neighbors telling you how your grandfather passed them on a hill (his was mental, but does it matter if the danger posed to themselves and others is mental or physical?). You break out in cold sweats thinking about the what ifs. I hope none have to experience that, or the aftermath of a wreck because of denial.

  • BlondieKAA By BlondieKAA

    I like Florida's idea. I understand not wanting to stereotype older drivers, but there do need to be safety measures put into place. I think that there need to be tests more frequently once drivers reach a certain age. I have several examples of why. My great grandfather drove well into his 90s, but he had trouble seeing. My family did all we could, but he insisted he had a right, since he still had a government issued license. There was an elderly lady who was killed in a car accident in my area, because she missed her exit and drove backwards on the freeway to get to her exit. So I won't say we should take licenses away from people based on age, but based on inability to pass a test. There are far too many drivers out there (young and old) who should not be on the roads!!

  • grekanda29 By grekanda29

    I feel that tests should be given to determine each individual's capabilities. As far as age being a determinable factor, the problem with that concept is that each person ages differently. For instance, one 70 yr. old may be able to think very coherently and see very well, another person of the same age might not. I believe in treating people as individuals and not grouping everyone together. Before we get too hasty in our judgments of who's 'too old' to drive, let's remember that one day WE will also be senior citizens.

  • ajannasmom By ajannasmom

    I think Florida has a good idea. I've been saying for years that I think older drivers, let's say at retirement age and over should be re-tested annually for a renewal. And not the let's go around the block test. It should be a true, on the road, and highway test. I don't know that restricting people to an area is a good idea. That seems a bit harsh. The way I see it is that if you can pass the REAL test, then you should be able to drive anywhere.

  • kristina20022002 By kristina20022002

    I was waiting at the dmv one day to renew my plates on my car and I watched this elderly lady take her eye test (reading the chart), in the letter reading she did fine, but when there were flashing lights on the side of her she didn't notice them and the lady behind the counter told her, but gave her her licence anyway. That right there is a hazard. if you don't notice anything from the sides of your vehicle you should not drive, It would be just like putting blinders on.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly

    I've seen more young drivers that are worse than older drivers. I don't think any test would help.

  • mitzi357 By mitzi357

    Capability is not determined by age alone, but by physical well being. If you are going to test, then Retest everyone - not just the elderly. The idea of a restricted area license is a good idea, I think... kind of like those who have a hardship license and can only drive to work and for groceries, doctor, church, etc.

  • Niecy38 By Niecy38

    mardel i so agree with you well said..

  • CrystalBurgard By CrystalBurgard

    Age is just a number and I don't feel it's right to take someone's license away just because they turn a certain age. The deciding factor should be is the person still capable of operating a vehicle safely which can be determined by retaking the tests at certain intervals, like every 10 years or something. I think this should go for everyone, not just the elderly. There are way too many young drivers on the road with barely enough experience to pass the test, let alone drive at night, in the rain or snow, etc, but there are also still plenty of people in all age groups that should not have gotten a license in the first place and it boggles the mind how they havent killed someone already

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