NMA Position On Elderly Driving

The NMA does not believe that the principal causes of serious accidents involving elderly drivers are poor vision, poor motor skills, stiff joints, or worn-out pacemaker batteries. Rather, it is diseases that cause a loss of cognitive skills that affect judgment, understanding, and memory such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thus, the NMA does not support frequent re-testing or age-based restrictions as they do not address this issue. Neither has been found to be effective in identifying and preventing problem drivers, in any age segment of the population.

The solution offered by the NMA involves the cooperation of the state agency that issues driver licenses.

A system should be put in place to evaluate the driving competency of motorists who, though an objective screening criteria, come to the attention of the licensing authority.

For example, the screening criteria could be based on a set number of accidents and/or violations that occur over a fairly short time line.

If a license holder (of any age) has a combination of three separate at-fault accidents or three separate traffic violations or a combination of accidents and violations over a six-month time frame, he or she would be required to attend an evaluation session. The evaluation could be followed with a comprehensive test.

There should also be a process through which the licensing agency could be petitioned to do an evaluation of a given license holder based on first-hand knowledge of family members, a law enforcement agency, or the courts. In fairness, there should be an appeal process for the person who loses his or her license.

If the evaluation indicates significantly diminished physical or cognitive abilities, the agency would revoke the drivers license.

If the evaluation simply finds a pattern of bad judgment, bad luck, or a short-term emotional disruption (divorce, death in family, loss of job, etc.), the license holder would be channeled back to the conventional system that deals with accidents and violations.

Useful Links on Elderly Driving

American Medical Association
Offers materials on driver safety and a helpful list of links.

AARP 55 Alive
Offers classroom driver refresher courses specially designed for motorists age 50 and older.

Eldercare Locator
This is a nationwide toll-free service that helps older adults and their caregivers find local services for seniors.

American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association
Occupational Therapists in your area can often assist or direct you to someone who can help elderly motorists.

Association of American Medical Colleges
The AAMC has Occupational Therapy Departments which may have a program in place to help elderly motorists.