In the Spring 2019 issue of the NMA member magazine Driving Freedoms, we introduced a short online survey designed to gauge public sentiment toward driver’s license testing norms for older motorists. As noted in the survey’s introduction, “The baby boomer generation has dominated the roads for several decades, and as they enter their 60s, 70s, and 80s, the U.S. driver demographic is growing older with them.”
Before we share some of the responses to the short essay question that asks for additional thoughts about issues related to advanced-age driver’s license renewal requirements, please note that the survey remains open here. We encourage you to participate. It only takes only a couple of minutes to complete, and yet those few minutes will provide us with a more complete view of how the public views the licensing requirements of older drivers.
The survey questions:
- Should driver license renewal requirements increase in frequency and/or scope for drivers who have reached a certain age?
Yes or No (If No, please skip to #5)
- Above which age should drivers be required to pass additional licensing requirements?
60, 65, 70, 75, 80 or older
- How frequently should advanced-age drivers be tested?
Every year, Every two years, Every four years
- What should advanced-age driver’s license renewal testing consist of (choose all that apply)?
Vision test, Knowledge (written) test, Road test
- Please share additional thoughts about advanced-age driver’s license renewal requirements, including any not covered in the above questions.
The early trending of responses for the first four questions is interesting. We will share the results when the survey is closed later in June. At the risk, however, of creating bias amongst those who haven’t completed the survey yet, here are just a few of the Question #5 responses received so far:
I’d be interested to know if there’s public health population data that might shed light on what age for most people do driving-related capabilities begin waning, and how quickly they wane once that process starts. An additional problem is that there are huge differences in how quickly people age, as well as differences in how people compensate for decreasing abilities by driving slower and more carefully.
The airline industry has had a mandatory retirement age for years, why not drivers? Most families, including my own, do not have the intestinal fortitude to take driver’s licenses away from elderly relatives before serious accidents or fatalities occur.
This should be a state issue. Advanced age should not be a trigger for further intrusion into the freedom of an individual to be mobile. The trigger should be an investigated incident by independent parties having no interest in or connection to the outcome.
They─advanced-age drivers─should be tested every five years. Participation at a performance driving school should satisfy the requirement for renewal.
As in many other situations in life, so much depends upon the individual. Attributes specific to safe driving are not age driven. Even slower reaction time could be evident in younger persons due to inattention, physical ailments, etc.
I answered “no” to Question 1 because I believe that all drivers, regardless of age, should be subject to periodic retraining and testing. The idea that we (barely) teach a driver how to drive for a couple of hours in their teens and then (barely) assess their skills at that time is, in my opinion, bad policy. In most of the USA, drivers can potentially drive as many as 75 years or so with no additional training or skills testing, and a lot can change in that amount of time.
There should be a link between your driver’s license and your driving record so you could see if a person is getting into a lot of accidents, they may need to be retested.
As long as I’ve had no accidents, my driving privileges should not be curtailed in any way. My driving record should be all that is considered when renewing my license. The most important aspect of safe driving is attention, also known as “situational awareness,” and this cannot be tested for in any case.