Senior Driving Statistics and Laws

Hi Topspeed,
Should seniors over the age of 65 be allowed to drive since they have diminished capacities?

Roger K. from Birmingham, Alabama

Hello Roger,

When you say diminished capacities, I'll assume that you mean slower reflexes, poor vision and so on. I don't think everyone over the age of 65 has diminished capacities but as a whole, senior drivers do have a higher crash death rate per miles driven than any other group except teens. Even so, the freedom to drive is not something that should be taken away from someone just because they have reached their twilight years. Any adult that has the ability to drive safely and properly should be allowed to do so.

Most studies confirm that senior drivers are no more dangerous than drivers under the age of 25 but the government feels differently. Twenty-one states have senior driving laws. Most states require a road test in order for seniors to renew their licenses and licenses are granted to seniors for shorter durations than younger drivers. While this may seem like unfair discrimination, senior driving laws help to verify the actual driving ability of senior drivers who cannot be objective about the matter.

Most seniors are quite adept at realizing when they can no longer drive as well as they used to. They either surrender their driver's licenses or just choose not to renew them. This self-policing of driving ability is to be commended and there is no shame in admitting that certain limitations come with advanced age.

Getting older doesn't mean you'll become a worse driver but statistics show that per licensed driver, fatal crash rates rise sharply at age 70 and beyond. This could be attributed to a wide range of factors but hopefully in the long run, senior driving laws will help to reduce the number of fatal crashes involving senior drivers. The important thing to remember is that no one should drive if their ability to do so has been compromised. This applies to all drivers regardless of their age.

By the year 2030, seniors are expected to represent 25% of the driving population. I would prefer to share the road with them instead of the many young adults I often see driving like crazed idiots. Credit should be given to senior drivers because they have the advantage of experience, are more responsible, and they usually stay in the right lane so that faster drivers may proceed unimpeded.

I know many people over the age of 65 that are in great shape and who can drive circles around people half their age. Age is only a number and you're only as old as you feel. I plan on driving till I kick the bucket. How about you?

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