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How Old Is Too Old To Drive?

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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  • 1mizzer By 1mizzer
    07.17.09  

    I think sometimes it is not a matter of age, but their pyhical condition. My Fater is 90 y/o. He lives alone and he still drives! His mind is sharp also.

  • sariee32 By sariee32
    07.18.09  

    Yes, I think that after the age of 70 drivers should be tested ATLEAST every year to determine if they are still fit to drive. There has actually been 5 accidents I can recall here in Massachusetts caused by elderly drivers. And that is since the beginning of June. On one occasion the woman drove into a crowd of people in Plymouth, 2 instances of drivers hitting pedestrians and 2 more driving into buildings. If these accidents were all caused by teenagers you bet there would be some changes in the law so why should it be any different for any one else?

  • rulistenin By rulistenin
    07.18.09  

    Last week, an 82 yr old friend of mine who has lived in this SMALL town for over 40 yrs was going to meet me and another lady at McDonald's after an event we attended. I found it odd that she asked to follow me, since we have all been there many times. We only had to drive about 2 miles, but I let her follow. I wondered if she really couldn't remember how to get there. I drove slowly and she still was not keeping up with me. Then, a cop whipped across the street and pulled in between my car and my friend's. He followed me all the way to McD's. Of course, I resumed normal driving speed. The cop didn't stop me, but I'm sure he called in my plates, etc. After parking, my friend was nowhere to be seen. The other lady meeting us and I waited out in the street for a long time before my friend finally came around the corner of a street in a completely different direction. Long story short, as fond as I am of my friend, she probably should no longer be driving.

  • Annam74 By Annam74
    07.19.09  

    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.

  • barbarita By barbarita
    07.19.09  

    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.

  • taylormom07 By taylormom07
    07.19.09  

    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!

  • kailarl69 By kailarl69
    07.20.09  

    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!

  • prt1984 By prt1984
    07.20.09  

    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.

  • jmrowe By jmrowe
    07.20.09  

    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

  • berned_you By berned_you
    07.21.09  

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

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