SHESPEAKS Your Power to Influence

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?

Make a Comment

Comment  *
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! ;)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • rtennyso1 By rtennyso1

    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.

  • diji1519 By diji1519

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

More stories like this