Back when I first started Automoblog.net, I wrote a post about the elderly and what restrictions should be placed on them regarding driving. Clearly this is an issue on the roads, and people had many opinions to share regarding the issue. I would like to revisit the post, and hear some more opinions regarding the matter.
In the time since that post was written, I’ve personally experienced more bad situations regarding the issue, and I’m sure many of my readers have as well.
Should elderly drivers be banned from driving? Many seem to think so. Motorinsurance.co.uk, an online insurance broker reported that 49% of drivers want elderly drivers banned. Paul Cosh is the managing director of MotorInsurance, and had a few comments on which I would like to comment:
“I do not think that picking on this nation’s most careful and experienced drivers is really the answer.
Yeah, my dad was awesome at football back in his day. He’s very experienced, that doesn’t mean he should still do it.
“To be honest, the views shown by this poll are quite shocking and simply do not stand up against the facts.
“Of course increased age brings its challenges, but healthy older drivers typically try to compensate for deficiencies. If anything, they also drive more carefully and avoiding risk-taking in general.
“To suggest that older drivers are a danger on the roads is a statistically unfounded stereotype and if anyone wants to debate the safety record of an 80 year-old compared with the average 20 year-old, my door is always open.”
The point is, I know for a fact that old people are a danger on the roads. I have seen many accidents (some involving people I know) that were caused by nothing but an incompetent old person not paying attention, and not having the reaction times necessary to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, making it worse.
Paul Cosh, who I quoted above is clearly an idiot, but banning old people from driving completely seems a little bit extreme. But what about people who can’t react in a timely manner, can’t make reasonable decisions, and can’t see or hear as well as other drivers? Allowing them on the road as freely as anybody else is as ridiculous as allowing drunk drivers on the road. I’ve been in one accident and have otherwise had very close situations in which I had to make fast decisions as to what to do, and only one has been from a drunk driver. The others from old people who didn’t know what they were doing, and I would be surprised if they knew where they were. Disclaimer: I do not have anything against old people, and I hate drunk drivers. I don’t want you to take the last paragraph the wrong way. I just have a problem with old people driving.
So back to the solution. What to do? Like I said above, banning them all from the road completely is extreme, but allowing them all to drive is ridiculous. I propose that beginning at age 65 (maybe 70,) the driver takes a strict driving test every year. Obviously this will keep the dangerous ones off the road, and the competent ones can still drive. A few states already implement something like this, like Rhode Island who requires drivers over 70 to renew their licenses every two years but take only the standard vision test. However, I think it should be more thorough. Illinois requires road tests for drivers over 75 who want to renew their licenses, while 15 other states have an accelerated renewal schedule. At least five states have stopped mail-in renewals for older drivers. But that’s obviously not enough.
What are your opinions on this? Do you think all people over a certain age should be banned, or do you think everybody should have the right to drive? What age should we start requiring testing, and how frequent should the testing be?