How should states deal with the licensing of older drivers?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Last week in Santa Monica, Calif., 86-year-old Russell Weller drove his car through a crowded farmer's market on a closed street, killing 10 people and injuring up to 45 (related story). In the aftermath of the incident, many questions have been raised about the safety record of older drivers and whether any additional requirements are needed to obtain a driver's license. How should states deal with the licensing of older drivers?

Some of your responses:

Re-testing drivers after a specified age or health diagnosis should be mandatory. Part of that testing should be reaction-time-based (developed by physicists) and really show how dangerous a driver can be, especially to him/herself. Should independence for one person cost the life of another human being? Driving is a privilege, not a right. Be responsible.
Mary Causey
Pittsburgh, Pa.

All states should impose a mandatory driving test at age 65. Then every five years after that. This would save lives and most likely a large amount of money. I believe this would definitely reduce the number of accidents caused by senior citizens. I happen to live in the Phoenix area, and during the winter when the "snow birds" are here, I always have to drive in the alert position. Countless times I have come so close to major accidents because senior citizens have overestimated their driving capabilities.
Jody Bowman
Mesa, Ariz.

I am 85 years of age and considered a good driver by all, but I would not object one bit if the motor vehicle department required a yearly driving test. I would be upset if I had to stop driving, but that would be preferable to hurting myself or someone else. I have to add that elders are not the only ones who should be tested often! There are many young people and middle-aged drivers who are a peril to those on the road.
Jeannette Kearns
Hackensack, N.J.

The implication that requiring driving tests for seniors is discrimination is absurd. Old people make laws, old people vote and so old people can cry foul when a law is suggested that requires them to display competence behind the wheel. Almost as ludicrous is that it takes tragedies like these to get people to address the question, and that it once again will be squashed by the AARP and our vote-conscious elderly legislators.
Howard Roark
Washington, D.C.

As a college student working in public transportation, it is important for people to realize that elderly people without a license will need public transportation to survive. The public needs to be supportive of mass transit. Elderly people will need it just to stay mobile for medical appointments and shopping, as examples. Otherwise, taking away a license could very well mean being institutionalized. Better mass transit options can help all segments of the population, not just the elderly.
Brad Windler
Lafayette, Ind.

Legally, it would not be proper to single out one age group for increased driving tests. However, it is ridiculous that someone can pass a written and road test at the age of 16, then never have to take it again. Drivers of ALL ages should have to take at least a written test every other time their license needs to be renewed. Is it really reasonable to think that learning the rules at 16 makes you as competent a driver at 40, or even 30? Could you get the same score on your SATs as you did when you were 16? I think not.
G. Woodall

Older drivers have a better driving record than the 16-22 age group — maybe we should have additional requirements for them. Accidents by older drivers are played up by the media. Any age group can make bad driving decisions. If older drivers do not have any medical problems that would hamper their driving, I do not believe that they should be treated any different than other drivers.
Darma Dickinson
Temple City, Calif.

Having worked with the elderly for many years, I know this is a difficult task. Because everyone ages differently, the states cannot pick an arbitrary age at which to stop allowing seniors to drive. However, they should require a driving test, at perhaps 70, and a doctor's signature indicating the applicant has no physical problems that could lead to accidents. Undoubtedly, many seniors would not like it, but it would lower the number of accidents seniors cause seniors which is currently nearly equal to the number teens cause.
Tara Nicholson
Hutchinson, Kans.

How many people have been killed by twenty-something year old males? Or what about Asian drivers? I think the current licensing standard is adequate for all people, all ages. We start discriminating against one group, where does it stop? One incidence, albeit horrific, does not speak for a group. Even to ask the question in my opinion shows a reactive, non-American mind.
Matt Scott

I think elderly drivers (67 and over) should have to take a driving test every year. I'm 62 and a lot can happen to your health in a year. I hope I will be able to drive until I die, but I would not want to be a hazard to other people and I might not be willing to admit that to myself. Driving and independence is very important to all of us, but no one should pay with their health, life or safety just because we don't want to give up our licenses when we are no longer safe drivers.
Ginny M.
Providence, R.I.