Driving tests for older drivers?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Picture from iPhoneFootPrint.com

Driving to work this morning, I was behind a car on Tazwell Pike that began driving erratically. The driver swerved, slowed down, stopped on the highway without a turn signal on, abruptly turned right, drove over the curb and slammed to a stop in a parking lot.

Thinking the person may be having a medical emergency, I slowly drove past and looked over at the car to see what was going on. An older woman (appeared to be 70s) was driving with a bandaged left hand. She looked a bit dazed but was talking to her passenger. I drove on.

A short time later, also on my way to work, I stopped at a traffic light. The car next to me, which was being driven by an older man, likely in his late 70s, began crossing the intersection, through a red light. One lane had a green arrow but he did not. A car slammed on his brakes in the intersection, narrowly missing the car.  The car behind that one swerved around the two. The driver that ran through the light didn't seem to notice and continued through the intersection without braking.

My question: should states require driving tests and physicals (hearing, vision and dementia screening) for drivers, say at the age of 75?  I think so. Granted, my lovely grandmother who is in her 80s is sharp as a tack and drives well but countless others do not.

James MacPherson with AAA said in The News-Times article that "...warning signals that should help seniors decide not to continue driving include confusion while driving somewhere, having one or two minor fender benders, thinking the speed limit is too high, or friends not wanting to be passengers in their car."

Just last week, we reported on an 80 year old man who crashed his car through a store front. Instead of stepping on the brake, he accidentally stepped on the accelerator. Luckily no one was killed. Yes, it was an accident but crashes like this could be prevented.

The problem is, no one wants to take away a person's freedom to drive. But perhaps there should be a check and balance in place to protect those who may not be able to drive safely any longer as well as those of us who are very careful on the roads.

Thoughts?

4 comments

Teri's Blog said...

The second accident I got into was an old guy hitting me. He had no clue I was there. I definitely think old people need to be verified by their doctor to get a or renew their drivers license.

overtly trite said...

yes I do think there should be some sort of mandatory program for older drivers. on a side not got a kick out of the link to my hometown paper ;)

Ted Stryk said...

I think the problem is largely an indictment of America's failure to produce a decent public transportation system. In many cases, the elderly have no options except to keep driving or go to a retirement home.

Denae said...

Teri - Yipes! Were you injured? Wonder if he had vision problems as well...

Overtly trite - That's your hometown paper!? Small world!

Ted - You're right. I couldn't live my life without my car because of the lack of bus transport or even sidewalks in parts of Knoxville. That should be a priority at some point for city leaders.