News & Events


HOW OLD IS TOO OLD TO DRIVE?


The number of elderly drivers on our roads is increasing each day.  This poses a unique and challenging problem to states across the country — how old is too old to drive?  All of us will hopefully live into our “golden years,” so this is a question that faces not only today’s elderly population, but the future elderly populations as well.

The effects of aging can compromise an individual’s eyesight, reflexes and motor skills — making the task of driving difficult and potentially dangerous to other drivers on the road.  Today, lawmakers are trying to strike a balance between the safety of all drivers on the road and the desire of elderly people to live independently.

There is no set age that can determine when an individual is unfit to perform the driving task.  That determination often has to be made by friends, family or the individual themselves.  Insurance carriers will often increase liability premiums as people reach 65 or older, but taking a defensive driving course may qualify elderly drivers for a lowered insurance premium in some states.

28 states have already mandated additional rules for older drivers (ages 65 and older).  These rules include requiring older drivers to renew their driver licenses more frequently, as well as road tests and vision tests.  In the State of Florida, for example, drivers age 80 and older must renew their driver’s license every six years and pass a vision test.  Other states like New Jersey and South Dakota have no such requirements for elderly drivers.

Opponents of these types of rules claim that elderly drivers are actually safer than younger drivers.  Why?  For starters, they’re less likely to speed or drive while intoxicated.  In fact, studies show that not until age 85 do elderly drivers take over as the age group most likely to be involved in fatal crashes (teenagers are typically number one).

Losing the ability to drive is a big issue to elderly drivers.  Driving equals independence and nobody wants to lose their independence.  Any legislation aimed at regulating or restricting elderly drivers must be carefully analyzed and all factors considered.  Someday, it will affect every single one of us.