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Driving Restriction for the Elderly?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter

In light of the accident yesterday where an 86 year old man apparently drove 3 blocks at a "moderate rate of speed" through a blocked off, pedestrian only area, eventually killing 9 and injuring 50+ - should there be restrictions or tighter regulations for senior citizens to drive? The man said he was unable to stop and may have stepped on the accellerator instead of the brake as he approached the large crowd of people. He only came to a stop when a person bounced off of the hood and landed on his windshield. (sorry to be so graphic!)

This issue was brought up a few years ago and was VEHIMENTLY opposed by the largest lobby in the country - AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons). The previous proposal was that people over the age of 75 would be required to pass a driving test to renew their license. This measure went down in flames. Remember, senior citizens make up a large majority of the *voting* population. The elderly gentleman who caused the accident yesterday did not have to pass any such test to renew his driver's license.

So the question remains....should there be a different set of requirements for maintaining a driver's license depending on your age? Should there be tougher requirements for all of us?
post #2 of 22
I've always been a proponent of requiring a physical driving test every so often for everyone (like very five years), and perhaps that should increase in frequency to annually at a certain age. I'm surprised the cost of insurance doesn't become prohibitive at some point, though. The cost of this system, however, would multiply exponentially from what it costs to run the DMVs now, and that's another issue preventing it from happening, I'm sure.

My grandmother was a perfect example. She really didn't want to give up driving because it would cost her her independence. I totally understand that problem. It makes it nearly impossible for some to get around, it increases their isolation, their ability to do things for themselves, &tc. In my grandmother's case, we probably "allowed" her to drive several years beyond when she was a safe driver. Thankfully she never had an accident. But she scared herself once, so we were able to convince her she was no longer safe on the road, and she stopped driving at 82. (She lived to be 96). BUT she had enough money to be able to afford to pay for the buses for the elderly and taxis upon occassion. AND she was able to walk - and then use her walker - to get to and from the bus. Grocery shopping is really difficult when you can't drive yourself, and many feel humiliated having to use special transportation. But the cost of people having licenses who cannot control the vehicle is just too high.

Driving is a privilege granted by the States, not a right.
post #3 of 22
BTW - my thoughts and prayers go out to those families. What happened is such a tragedy.
post #4 of 22
Our reflexes, eyesight, and hearing change as we get older, and we can't react as we used to. I've been in some close calls, nearly getting my car broadsided more than once by someone pulling out directly in front of me in traffic, and it was always an older person behind the wheel.

I'm not saying the elderly shouldn't drive, but I AM saying that retestings, perhaps every five years, once a person is over 65 would we a very good idea.
post #5 of 22
In Michigan the elderly must have driving tests every four years. My Dad is 84 and I feel he is still a very good driver. Very alert even when he is in the passenger seat. The other day we were driving along and he saw a deer before I ever saw him. I was able to serve out the way, just in time. If he hadn't been so alert and looking for the deer in the woods, I would have totalled by car for sure.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan deer, moose, porcupines, racoons, etc. are all a driving hazard on the highways.
post #6 of 22
Ummm good topic. Considering that majority of deaths are caused by drunk drivers and not elder people, I completely support the idea of having to take a driver's test every five years and to have insurance. In Texas, I can't believe how ridiculous it is for people who commit drunk driving accidents or accidents in general to not have insurance so the people who were injured or killed are not given anything in return.

For the elders, though, I agree that it strips them of their dignity and rights and the elders are pretty stubborn in admitting that they are not the best drivers, seeing how they drive pretty slowly or not well at all, but for those that are at risks of having a heartattack/strokes, etc, I don't think they would ever admit to needing better glasses or that they are not the best drivers or that they are a danger on the road. I don't think I would be able to admit it, I don't like being dependent on others even now at my age so I can't imagine having to be dependent then. In other countries though, it's a requirement that others take care of the elders, there is more focus on taking care of the elders, where as here, it seems it's easier to just get rid of our parents/grandparents by sticking them in a nursery. We had a horrible story a few weeks ago where this man completely neglected his uncle and grandmother, his grandmother died, she had been dead for a couple of weeks, mainly from not being fed and his uncle luckily was found alive but his body was withering away from not being fed. But the guy taking care of them, was more concerned about his truck than taking care of his family. I don't know where the article is, I will try to find it, but it disgusted me that these kinds of people exist.
post #7 of 22
Yes I think people over 65 should have to take a test ever 4 year;s! Ted's mom was 85 when we took her dl. away she was a very bad driver,had a couple of close call's!
post #8 of 22
Of course there are exceptions to everything. My grandpa was a good driver up until he died at 83. My Dad was a horrible driver all his life.
I definitely that once a person hits retirement age, they should be tested every few years to make sure they can still handle driving. Not just the handling of the vehicle, but also traffic. Just driving is a big enough problem, but when you throw in traffic, it can become frightening for someone whose reflexes and sight are failing.
On the other end of things, I think the driving age should be raised to 18, acutually, I wish it could be 21, but that is not reaslistic. There have been 6 traffic fatalities here in 2 weeks, because testosterone laden teen age boys can't seem to understand there are speed limits, and you cannot drag race on a public road. Only one of these were drivers, and out of the accidents, 9 other people have been critically injured.
post #9 of 22
Lawmakers could get around the age discrimination issue by making ALL drivers retest periodically, as someone suggested.
post #10 of 22
I think that periodic retesting for all drivers is a good idea. Although I've run into bad elderly drivers, I've also run into bad drivers of every age. I think that some people just forget the rules after being behind the wheel for a while.
post #11 of 22
My 15 year old son just got his permit, and in teaching him, I find myself re-evaluating all the rules I busted my butt to learn so long ago. I think it would be sound for all drivers to retest.
post #12 of 22
For many years, AZ required a written test AND a road test, when you got your first license at 16. Thereafter you had to take a written test and eye test, every three years, for renewal. In 1986, I took my last written and eye test and got a four-year license. In 1990, since I had had no accidents or moving violations, only the eye test was required. In 1994, I was issued a license that was good until I turned 60. (I was 37). When I changed my name, last year, I was issued a license, good until I'm 65. At that time, I will have to come in for an eye test and a new picture and every 5 years, thereafter.

Older drivers are not required to be tested, unless they have a number of moving violations or accidents. At least once week, an accident is caused by a 65+ person running a stop sign, swerving into oncoming traffic or rear-ending someone.

Several states DO require older drivers to at least have an eye test. The real way to weed out these bad drivers is regular road tests. My grandfather died at 82 and I refused to ride with him. If we went somewhere together - I drove.

At 45, my reflexes are not what they were, 20 years ago. I know that Tucson is full of lousy drivers and I tend to be very alert and give yahoos a wide berth. My last bad accident was in 1978, when an idiot ran a red light and broadsided me. Thank goodness, for that '64 Impala and all of that Detroit steel! THAT"S why I like to drive big old cars.
post #13 of 22
I think thats a hard one to call, because it depends on the person, some people at older age are quite with it and some are not, the same on the other end, some kids are not ready to drive at 15 or 16, so what do you do that would really mess with the lawmakers wouldnt it
post #14 of 22
The man who plowed into that farmers' market seems to have had problems before. According to police, his garage shows evidence that he's run into it, more than once.
post #15 of 22
I think it's a good idea to have the elderly take a driving test regularly. It's a fact that reflexes, sight, hearing etc. slow way down as we age. This case is very sad. The man has apparently had accidents before, over the last 10 years, and in fact today they are saying he may have been involved in a hit and run earlier in the day. This old guy is going to have to live with this the rest of his life. And this horrible accident could possibly have been prevented if he had been required to have driving tests periodically. Tough subject.
post #16 of 22
That man that ran into that market and killed all those people may have been running from an accident a block away. They are investigating that he may have done a hit-and-run on a Mercedes. I felt kind of sorry for him until I heard that.
post #17 of 22
This issue is going to get bigger as time progresses due to an increase in the 'older population'.

I support re-testing. Personally I would be quite happy to sit a re-test every ten years until the age of retirement, (whatever that may be as it changes now and then), and then from that point, every five years. It may seem extreme but over the years, people do develop bad habits, some potentially dangerous and it may take an outside observer to point them out to make a difference. And every five years from the age of retirement because generally reflexes start to slow down and sight and hearing deteriorates. I'm not saying that it does to the extent where an elderly person is an invalid, but it may reach the stage where it is no longer to drive safely.

And for people who do have to give up their driver's licences, they should be given free public transport so that they are able to do their daily errands and get to places. This is in the case of people who lose their driver's licences before the age of retirement before they're able to apply for their licences again.

And for those over the age of retirement, public transport should be provided free of charge.

Ok...huge cost for government but they will spend less on emergency services, health services etc. And lives will be saved and for the first time in a very long time, driving will be seen as a privilege, not as a birthright.
post #18 of 22
After what Rebecca said, he sounds like a maniac .. I don't feel sorry for him! My sympathy to the family of the life that was lost though!

I don't think Elderley people should be "banned" from driving - but as everyone has said I reckon they should get a regular driving test- I think 4 years is quite a long time though, so maybe 2 years could be better? An elderely persons health can deteriote alot in 4 years and I think over 60 and every two years. JMO

post #19 of 22
I think that everyone - no matter the age - should have to pass driving tests every 5 years. There are some horrible drivers out on the roads. I think the elderly should be tested every 2 years. We need to make the roads safer.
post #20 of 22
My dad is 76 and is OK to drive. My grandfather was a horrible driver, his whole life. He was 82, when he died and very ill with cancer. Mom and I conspired and got his car AND the keys from him. It was a sneaky thing to do to a sick old man but, we DID keep him from taking anyone with him. Besides, my parents, brother and I would drive him wherever he needed to go.

Bill is 58 and had cataract surgery, five years ago. Because of his implants, headlight glare blinds him at night. HE has sense enough, not to drive at night. Fortunately, he is quite content to have me drive.
post #21 of 22
Originally posted by adymarie
I think that everyone - no matter the age - should have to pass driving tests every 5 years. There are some horrible drivers out on the roads. I think the elderly should be tested every 2 years. We need to make the roads safer.
Amen to that
post #22 of 22
Ya... i think we should all be tested every couple of years ago and that the tests should become more frequent past a certain age.
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