Aging Drivers and the Law
Question: Who has the most automobile accidents in the US – a new young driver or an elderly driver? The answer might surprise you. That kid across the street that you saw as reckless, and you feared the day he’d get his driver’s license, is less likely to have a car accident than you or any of your contemporaries. The reason that elderly drivers have more accidents is because they are more likely to be affected by poor eyesight, chronic disease and medications that might impair driving.
Unfortunately, we live in a car-dependent culture, and seniors need their cars for two reasons (1) for the convenience and (2) because driving is a symbol of one’s independence.
In Ohio, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) really wants older drivers to be able to maintain their driving independence, if they drive safely and confidently. The state of Ohio requires all drivers whose licenses have expired to come to a local BMV office to renew their licenses. A vision test is part of this renewal process. And, in certain circumstances, a driver may be required to take a written knowledge test. All this is for the current senior drivers, and with the knowledge that 1 in 3 Ohioans will be 65 or older by 2040.
The state of Illinois takes the testing of senior drivers to a much different level. There, drivers who are 75 or older are required to take a road test at renewal which is every four years for residents who are 75 to 80 years of age. The road test must be taken every two years for residents who are 81 to 86, and every year for residents who are over the age of 87.
AAA is not in favor of Illinois’ renewal practices for senior drivers. Their attitude is that a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work. According to Schwind of AAA, “Everybody ages differently. The policy should be designed on a case-by-case basis rather than chronological age.”
According to Dr. Brendan Kelley, a neurologist at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, “The American Academy of Neurology conducted studies to see whether tests conducted in an office setting can determine whether someone is fit to drive. The answer was no. Our gold standard for evaluating driving safety would be an on-the-road assessment.”
If you are concerned about your senior family member driving, please contact Samaritan Home Health Services at 440-561-7328.