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Should State Set Strict Rules for Elderly Driving?

Laws across the country vary as locals, politicians can't agree on when, if at all, a person becomes too old to drive.

When it comes to setting rules for elderly drivers, states are all over the map, a new report from the Associated Press showed on Monday.

The news organization, citing increased angst over older drives on the road, showed varying practices across the country. For example, while vision tests become even more important, states vary on what age they start demanding them more regularly. In states like Montana, drivers over 75 years old must renew their licenses every four years.

New York, however, does not have any special provisions for older drivers.

The issue came into limelight after a near-deadly incident in August when a 100-year-old driver backed over a group of Los Angeles schoolchildren. A similar scenario played out on the local front when in May an 87-year-old woman died when she drove down a boat launch in Port Jefferson. Family members said the victim was suffering from macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes deteriorating vision.

Let us know, do you think the state should set up tougher provisions to monitor elderly drivers?

Betty white September 17, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Yes. Absolutely. Driving is a privledge, not a right. The elderly put too many in danger because of their stubbornness to admit they are no longer fit to drive.
Ann September 17, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Don't worry so much about the elderly - they might be a little slower as they get older, but they stop at Stop Signs, they don't text - what you should worry about are the teens to early thirties who drive like they are in the Indy 500 - they text, don't stop at Stop signs
CJ September 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Unfortunately, many elderly drivers are just as dangerous as young, inexperienced drivers. It's just a fact of life - you can't react as quickly as you used to.
John K Massaro September 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM
They stop at stop signs? They drive slow? They don't drive like they're in the Indy 500? Apparantly you've never driven with my Grandfather. He thought stop signs & traffic lights were optional as long as there was nobody around, totally ignored any & all speed limits, was obvilious to the surrounding traffic, would scream at pedestrians, wore glasses as thick as coke bottle bottoms & used his horn more than he did his brake pedal. He went thru 5 cars in 4 years...
Veg September 17, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I never felt too strongly about restrictions on elderly drivers until a few years ago. My son and I were involved in an accident where an elderly woman in her low 80's, made a left into oncoming traffic on Indian Head Road going into the Commack Library. She hit my car (and totalled it), as well as two others, and caused extensive damage to all of the vehicles, and her own car as well. My airbags went off, and we were lucky to only have sustained a little whiplash and some bruises. As it turns out, she also had some eyesight issues with one of her eyes, which limited her ability to see the road correctly. When she emerged from her car, she merely said that "The light was green, what happened". The police and EMT's on the scene were horrified when they saw the state she was in, with one of them commenting that "she should not be driving in the first place". Perhaps if NY State required drivers like that woman to be restesed every few years, including an eye test, this could have been avoided. To me, an unstable driver, whether elderly, or DWI, or texting while driving, has a deadly weapon at their disposal.
Paul L. September 17, 2012 at 05:22 PM
It's hard to get them to stop driving because it is a blow to their independence but some people can't admit to themselves that they're a danger on the road.
Re September 17, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Well you do a have a tool to require retesting of an elderly driver . It is called the Driver Responsibility act and is administered in Albany by Motor Vehicles. .The senior can be retested by Motor vehicles at the request of a family member or person with standing. to be involved. MY father did retest and did not pass but was given over a year to relearn his driving skills. He was issued a learners permit and took lessons and classes from a school etc. He was 88
John Gruber September 17, 2012 at 05:44 PM
it's a fact of life, as you age most lose their coordination, which driving requires a lot. They simply can't concentrate on all the things that driving requires their attention. Too many are simply wrecking balls going 40mph and pose a risk to everyone around them
Argile September 17, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Incorrect. I've seen elderly fail to signal when changing lanes or turning. Travel in the left lane doing less than the speed limit way too often. Not look behind them when backing out of a parking spot. I'm glad that they are trying to be as independent as possible but many are not aware they are a danger to other drivers and pedestrians do to slower reflexes and just not observing the basic rules of the road. How many time have we seen video of the elderly running people down or go crashing through a store because the confused the gas with the brake pedal? How many people have to get maimed before something is done?
Susan Sparago September 17, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I agree drivers should be required to have at least an eye test every 2 years. Macular degeneration led one of my husband's friends to have 2 accidents at which he was at fault for New York State to take away his license. They could have been prevented if his eye doctor had sent a report to the NY State Dept. of Motor Vehicles to take away his license, My husband's doctors had his license taken away when they realized his dementia was getting him to confused to know where he was going at times. Of course he didn't like it - it was giving up his independence that bothered him the most, but it was the safe thing to do. I am all for it.
Greg Martinez September 17, 2012 at 07:31 PM
It is true that a drivers license is just that, a license, not a right. Eye exams at the DMV are pretty much useless, only an eye test by a professional (optometrists etc), are an accurate measure of one's eyesight. Retesting for the elderly (75 and up) every few years probably has value. Of equal value would be regularly retesting younger drivers up to around 25 years old. Even better AND of more practical value is the concept of defensive driving. ALL drivers SHOULD assume that everyone else around them is going to make a mistake. Far too many drivers have tunnel-vision when they drive, and are just not paying attention to what is going on around them. Talking and texting on cell phones while driving is just plain crazy. At the very least, if you just can't wait until you stop to talk on a phone then use a darn hands-free setup. The bottom-line is that like so many problems in this world it is NOT new laws and the government (DMV or police) that will be truly effective, it is a cultural problem that can be truly affected by we-the-people in our day-to-day lives.
Ronald R Roth September 17, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I checked NYS DMV site, and there is no mention of involuntary retesting of anyone at the request of a family member or anyone else. the onus is left to the driver, who may volunteer for the program.
Paul Hart September 17, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I agree that everyone over 60 should be required to pass a written and road test when their license is due for renewal. I am 65 so I would be affected as well. I would also like to include all drivers with "excessive" points on their license. However since it costs $$$ and the state is broke, it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.
HeyJoe September 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM
it wasnt elderly people who were blowing by me at 85 mph on the LIE Sunday Afternoon weaving in and out of lanes. elderly people are singled out for ridicule in the comments section for stories such as this, but there are many more drivers un der 65 who are truly dangerous, distracted and deadly.
Paul Hart September 18, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Those 85 mph idiots need to be retested especially. Most elderly drivers are safe, however there are some who are driving with dementia or other physical conditions that make them unsafe. I do agree 1000% about unsafe drivers whatever the age.
Re September 18, 2012 at 02:36 AM
. In New York State, you can file a request for a DMV re-examination of the driver. Your letter will need to give specific examples of the unsafe driving behavior and/or medical conditions or medications you believe impair the driver's ability and judgment.You must sign the letter. If you request, DMV will keep your name confidential. Keep in mind DMV is required to guard against such letters being used in family or neighbor disputes to harass a driver. This means your letter will be carefully reviewed and you may be contacted for additional information If everything checks out, DMV will promptly notify your driver by mail to report to the "Testing and Investigation Section" of one of its district offices or to a road test site. Your driver may be required to bring a medical statement to address any conditions or medications described in your letter. He or she will be interviewed by a DMV License Examiner and may be required to take a vision, written and/or road test. If your driver passes all of the required tests, the case is closed and no further action is taken. If warranted, however, restrictions such as corrective lenses, no limited access highways, or daylight only driving, may be imposed. If your driver does not appear or refuses to appear, their license will be suspended. If the driver fails the written or road test, their license will be revoked. After thirty (30) days, they may reapply. .http://www.aging.ny.gov/Caregiving/OlderDriver/DriverChapter3.cfm
George September 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
There many issues here, it is not simple at all. In no particular order: Senior citizen vote, teenagers don't. Some senior citizens are very carfull drivers, if maybe a bit slow for most people's taste. Some senior citizens were careless drivers before they became senior citizens and now they are dangerous drivers. Some senior citizens are too proud to give up their driving privileges. Some senior citizens do not realize they are dangerous drivers. Some senior citizens are afraid to become isolated if they stop driving. Some senior citizens do not want to become a burden on their family. Some senior citizens are hornery and don't care about the danger they represent when they drive. Some people who are not senior citizens have the same issues senior citizens have. Maybe driver licenses should not be automatically renewed for anyone. If you had an accident or ticket you should be required to take a driver safety class.
John Gruber September 18, 2012 at 02:40 PM
the difference is joe, they have much faster reflexes and coordination than that of a 75 year old driver
Marion Knott September 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
My husband and I are both eighty two (wow!!) He is the best and safest driver that I know. He follows all the right traffic rules. He gets angry at drivers, whatever their age who don't. He has a Ca. driver's liscense and when it recently expired had to take the written test again before he could get his liscense renewed. What I think they should do is not take the written test but another driving test. That would tell more than something you can study for and is not that hard. I still have my drivers liscense and I haven't driven in years though I would certainly drive it if my husband's life was in danger-not from my driving but from an emergency. I keep it because I use it for going through security or as an ID for my sudafed, etc. I also love the picture of me twenty years ago, they never seem to re take the picture and I usually look ugly in pictures. No one questions my white hair, they just accept it. It's true that the elderly don't usually text or use cell phones while driving but that's the only positive.
Marion Knott September 18, 2012 at 04:10 PM
An addition from my elderly driver who is also my husband. In California besides the written test, he has the eye test and a new picture and a fingerprint. He said he can understand the written test since it would test his whatever. I am trying to find the word but don't worry I am not on the road!
FED UP 1 ! September 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
THEY ARE TOO OLD TO DRIVE WHEN THEY CAN'T SEE OVER THE STEERING WHEEL AND DO 25MPH ON THE NSP IN THE LEFT LANE! THERE SHOULD BE TESTING OF SOME KIND AFTER 75 YRS OF AGE. I'M SURE IT'S A TOUCHY SUBJECT THAT NO ELECTED OFFICIALS WANT TO GO ON RECORD TO DEAL WITH THIS DANGEROUS SUBJECT!!!

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