Skip to comments.Should Elderly Drivers be Retested?
Posted on 04/21/2014 2:47:33 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Last week, a 72-year-old New Canaan man faced vehicular manslaughter charges for allegedly striking and killing a motorcyclist last fall. In Darien, an 89-year-old man turned himself in after allegedly hitting and severely injuring 15-year-old pedestrian on Hoyt Street. He claimed he didn't know he hit anything until he saw the accident reported in the paper the next day. And on Friday an 85-year-old man sustained minor injuries after rolling his car over on West Avenue in Darien.
For years, lawmakers, senior advocates and the children of elderly parents have debated the need for retesting older drivers. Now that seniors have longer life expectancies, and Baby Boomers are beginning to age, more and more older drivers are on the road. The Federal Highway Administration states that in 2007 there were more than 20 million licensed drivers 70 and older in the United States. Statistics also show that the total annual miles older drivers traveled climbed 29 percent from 1995 to 2001.
And while age may not have factored into the accidents mentioned above, it raises the important question of whether elderly citizens should continue to drive.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aging affects elderly drivers in a number of ways: "Safe elderly drivers require the complex coordination of many different skills. The physical and mental changes that accompany aging can diminish the abilities of elderly drivers. These include: a slowdown in response time; a loss of clarity in vision and hearing; a loss of muscle strength and flexibility; drowsiness due to medications; and a reduction in the ability to focus or concentrate."
The administration said that one or two of these changes aren't automatic reasons to stop driving, but an elderly person's driving skills should be revaluated to determine if they need to alter driving habits or stop driving altogether.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that specific physical, cognitive and visual abilities may decline as people age, but adds that age alone is not sufficient information to judge driving ability. We agree, which is why we feel retesting should be mandatory. We don't believe there should be an age limit on driving since no two people are the same. However, while one driver may have perfect vision and hearing, another's may quickly be deteriorating.
The IIHS also cited several studies that have shown that "higher levels of physical, cognitive or visual impairment among older drivers are associated with increased risk of crash involvement."
While we agree that revoking someone's license is akin to taking away their freedom, we also believe elderly drivers with diminished vision and hearing, as well as slower reflexes, pose a greater danger to society as a whole. It wasn't long ago that the state of Connecticut changed rules for teen drivers. Kids can't pile their friends in the car until they've had their license for one full year. We feel that the state should be flexible with elderly drivers as well, making sure they're tested to protect everyone's safety.
The IIHS found that when compared to younger drivers, senior drivers are "over-involved" in certain types of collisions -- angle crashes, overtaking or merging crashes and especially intersection crashes. The most common error made in senior-involved crashes is failure to yield the right-of-way. Seniors are cited for this error more often than younger drivers, the institute claims. In a recent institute study of non-fatal crashes occurring at intersections, drivers 80 and older had fewer rear-end crashes than drivers ages 35 to 54 and 70 to 79, and both groups of older drivers had more failure-to-yield crashes and fewer ran-off-road crashes than younger drivers. Reasons for older drivers' failure-to-yield crashes varied with age. Compared with younger and older drivers, the study stated that drivers 70 to 79 were more likely to see another vehicle but misjudge whether there was time to proceed. Drivers 80 and older predominantly failed to see the other vehicle.
Since not all crashes are reported to the police, the IIHS also looked at insurance claims, and found that both collision and property damage claims begin increasing after "about age 65 meaning that seniors more often are involved in crashes."
Currently, Connecticut does not have laws pertaining to elderly drivers. As long as you have a current license, and the funds, the state will renew your license.
There are only two states, New Hampshire and Illinois, that mandate road tests for drivers 75 and over.
A 2009 Boston Globe article stated, "In 2007, New Hampshire drivers 75 and older were involved in nine fatal traffic crashes, compared with 32 in Massachusetts, according to federal statistics. That year, New Hampshire drivers age 65 and older were involved in 11 percent of all fatal crashes, slightly lower than Massachusetts's 11.6 percent."
In 2004, Florida began requiring drivers 80 and older to pass a visual acuity test when renewing their driver's license. An IIHS study of this requirement found that 80 percent of those eligible for license renewal attempted to do so, and only 7 percent of drivers were denied license renewal because they failed the vision test. Of those who did not seek renewal, about half said they thought they would fail the vision test.
California requires drivers 70 and older to undergo a vision test and a written test. A road test is required only if there are indications of driver impairment, based on a report by a law enforcement officer, a physician or a family member.
Washington, D.C., requires a vision test at the time of renewal, and states that a reaction test may also be administered starting at age 70. A practicing physician must certify that the applicant is physically and mentally competent to drive. Starting at age 75, drivers may be required to complete a written test and a road test.
Connecticut should also take steps to ensure everyone's safety on the road. It took a number of high-speed fatal crashes for the state to change the laws pertaining to teenage drivers, and we believe the state should require testing for elderly drivers before additional fatalities occur on our roads.
I think half the kids in Colorado should be tested.
As soon as Joe “Brain Dead” Biden is...
Obammy care would like to kill all of them.
Young drivers are worse. At least that is true around here. Retest them.
I think if they were honest in their reporting, they would note that the number and severity of accidents by the over 55 age group is miniscule compared to the younger groups.
The answer is yes, but the real question is, “How frequently?”
I knew an older neighbor who seemed perfectly rational at Christmas, but wandered off driving, parked his car, and died of exposure several months later. It was sad, but fortunately he didn’t take anyone with him. What frequency of testing would have anticipated a sudden decline without being oppressive?
Under 25 and over 75 are the two most dangerous groups of drivers in the country.The under 25's because of stupidity and/or testosterone...the over 75's because of failing eyes,ears and brains.
That's true. Accident rate and overall accident count both low.
However, I just stopped my 97 YO mother from further driving. Has to be a limit somewhere.
He committed suicide EOM
I hope so. It was hard on the family, whatever his intention.
Sadly, you just can't catch every developing bad situation in life.
If seniors are going to be discouraged from driving, there would have to be a whole lot of progress in safe public transportation.
Had some old geezer turn left in front of me over forty years ago such that I hit the side of his car on my bike at about 50 mph.. Busted me up nicely.
Geezer kept on going, someone that saw it happen had to chase him down. Claimed he did not know anything happened.
I think what you are looking at in the older group is that accidents involving elderly tend to have more fatalities (the driver him/herself) because they are more frail. The accident rate itself has been going down about 1%/year for the older drivers.
Can't disagree with that statement from what I have seen in all my years of driving.
Dang it, driving in the passing lane at 45 with my left blinker on is the best part of getting old! BTT
Sounds like it.
Personally, I can DRIVE THE PANTS off of just about any 90 year old, even with 0.11 BAC. Without a doubt. But I am the one how gets my life ruined...so I don’t drive drunk (which is still better for everyone).
But should that 90 year old still be driving, when NO ONE knows of his capability?
> Obammy care would like to kill all of them.
Yep. if you don’t pass you are sent to the Soylent Green Nursing Home...
Test them every year after 75...
In all the years I have been driving I will agree with the both of you!
I was young once and can testify that my friends and yours truly included used to drive like we stole them.
Live and learn if your lucky enough.
Not sure what that age should be, but I'm thinking the testing should start at 60-65 and probably be done every 2-3 years after that. My wife and I are approaching that now, and I can see her having more problems with sight and timidity, particularly at night. I know I'm not at fast on the reflexes as I once was, but I balance that with caution (situational awareness, slowing in advance, staying away from other obvious idiot drivers, etc.).
I watched our parents age and slowly lose their abilities, with my father-in-law getting killed when he yanked across traffic without a clear view (a wait of 5-10 seconds would have saved him).
I would rather collapse my world and live without driving than put my kids through the hell that accident caused...
But how do you test for "Hmm, I wonder if my car can go 100 miles per hour" since that thought rarely comes up with a tester in the passenger seat.
It all comes down to personal responsibility. I charged my son to take my keys away when he believes I should stop driving. I don’t want to be that guy mashing the gas pedal trying to stop as I plow through pedestrians.
If someone values their “freedom” to drive over the lives of other folks, he will continue to drive regardless of what is right. Just like folks who drink and drive, or text and drive, etc.
That’s life, and that’s death. That’s a free society. There is risk in liberty. No more laws, please.
Why not retest everyone? It would give so many more state jobs.
I seem to remember those days pretty well myself. They have given me some fond memories as well. I have lived long enough to say I was lucky perhaps. Today you won't catch me exceeding the speed limit by more than maybe 5 mph at times even though I just bought myself a new Dodge 5.7L Hemi pick up that begs me to stick my foot in it and give it a swift kick in the butt. Kind of reminds me of my early days, 60's and 70's.
Back in the 90’s, I got a new Honda. My previous car would shake, rattle and roll if I went over 35-40. Imagine my surprise one day when I was on one of the main roads here and looked down to see how fast I was going because the car did not do that. It was about 65. I was shocked because I was so use to my old one. I think the speed limit at that time was 50/55.
I don't want to see a 90 year old with their pants off. Please don't do it.
Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.
We had a client with a similar situation....An older woman just changed lanes right into a gentleman riding a Harley that was loud enogh to wake the dead. Luckily, a witness chased her down...she didn’t hear or see a thing.
When my time comes, I’m off the road...don’t want to not see an 18 wheeler or, basically, become a killing machine.
Florida in particular I think was singled out as coddling old folks through renewals, ignoring infirmity and incompetence.
Florida as well IIRC has had the best horror stories of oldsters mowing down people multiple times after being given their driving privileges back.