• Nov 14, 2010
Next year, the very first Baby Boomers will be 65 years old. By 2025, nearly one in five drivers will be 65 or older. Looking even further ahead, the number of licensed drivers over age 65 is set to double in 2030, to 57 million. The National Transportation Safety Board believes that the government needs to prepare for this and work towards reducing death and injury rates for elderly drivers.

We've already seen a substantial drop in elderly driver deaths, however. The number of drivers aged 70 or older involved in fatal accidents has declined by 20 percent over the last decade. Buried in that nice-sounding statistic is a more serious one, though: a driver over 70 is three times as likely to sustain a fatal injury compared to someone 35 to 54 years old.

Studies show that the average male drives six years longer than he should and the average female continues driving for another 10 years after she should turn in her keys. State governments are allowed to decide on their own restrictions pertaining to elderly drivers, and many provisions are making it onto upcoming ballots. They include requiring vision tests, shortening renewal periods and banning renewal by mail.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Getty]


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  • 57 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Or we could just ban them... well not technically ban them, just institute mandatory driving tests every five years or so and as they age further, say past 80, must be taken even more often. This will surely reduce the number of old drivers by disqualifying many and making it such a pain to others that they won't even attempt to drive. Those caught without a license will face steep fines and repossessed vehicles that can only be returned after the caught driver passes the required tests and pays the fines. Failure to do both results in an auctioned car where the funds will be used to pay the fine (if not done so already) any remaining money is then given back to the owner. If the car is worth less then the fine the difference will still need to be paid. Sorry old timers but I'm tired of seeing you drive down the wrong side of the road, go 15 MPH below the speed limit which causes huge backups that often require risky passing maneuvers, swerving like you're driving one drink away from alcohol poisoning, backing out of places as if you don't need to look behind you, driving in the passing lane all day, and failing to stop, go or yield in intersections with lights, signs or roundabouts. Yes, I know they're not the only ones guilty however in my experiences they're guilty more often then not. And yes I would be for stricter driving rules for everyone.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Top Gear already proved old people can still drive. Remember the grandma's doing donuts in the S2000?
      • 4 Years Ago
      That lady is a Granny of a baby boomer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My company works with independent seniors living in their own homes. As part of our relationship building with the family, including the senior family members, we discuss transportation, and I find it is often easier for seniors to accept the concerns if they are addressed openly with a view towards acceptable solutions as opposed to simply taking the keys away. Driving is, for most seniors, the last vestige of independence, and while I personally know stories similar to the ones other readers have mentioned, this serious issue needs to be addressed sensitively and constructively.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmm, it's interesting to see that ladies hang up their keys 4 years later than males. I wonder the cause of this and if the age they should hang up their keys is the same or if males have an older age to when it is deemed they should stop driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think it's because women tend to live longer. More men die young of heart attacks, etc...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmmm, well it's not unexpected, as to how much more "involved" the slightly older people are being with everything new, growing up with more technology and all...

      My grandfather can't operate a regular phone, my father complains about the lack off features on his iPhone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep, my parents hardly ever use, or know how to use, a PC, let alone an iPhone, or the car's GPS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Make stricter driving tests for everyone!! And not just written tests. They should have to prove themselves on the road more then anything. Elderly should be taking a new driving test every 2 years. Everyone else maybe every 5 years. Our driver education program is a joke and it should be a National Standard!
      • 4 Years Ago
      NJ already bans renewal by mail and it is so frustrating. I hate being forced to go into the DMV.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You have to get a license every 4 years, it's really not that big of a deal. And the MVC is actually pretty well run these days. The last time I was there, I was transferring an out of state title, transferring plates from old car to new, paying sales tax on the out of state car, getting an inspection done, and getting the registration transferred. I got all of that done in about an hour, and most of the time was me filling out the forms.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm glad this is getting attention. Driving is treated as more of a basic right than a certification in this country. One day I will be old and dread the day I will have to hang it up. But there does indeed need to be a higher standard of skill enforced.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It seems to me the ultimate solution to this problem (as well as drunk, distracted, or tired driving) is to have cars that can drive themselves. This is pretty much possible now - for example Google has logged a 140,000 miles on their self driving cars with only one accident, which wasn't the fault of the self driving car (it got rear-ended by a human driven car).

      Hopefully the cost will come down, and minor kinks worked out before the aging of the population gets really bad.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My grandfather is 93 years old, has wrecked 3 cars in the last 5 or 6 years (one of them an absolutely PRISTINE 1978 Plymouth Fury that my uncle had given to him), and STILL has his license. There is no sane reason. But hey, long as he pays for gas, property taxes, registration renewal, and insurance, they'll let this go on. Like everything else, it's all about good ol' money. Who cares if he winds up killing somebody's kids, so long as the system can get a few hundred bucks out of him every year?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The reason many older drivers dont "hang up the keys" when they should is because of a number of reasons.
      First, it is hard to draw that line of exactly when. How do you quanitfy exactly how much their reaction time has slowed and what the cutoff should be if you even could quantify that value. Many times they will only realize that it is time to stop after they have an accident/incident. Take my grandfather for example, he didnt stop driving until someone with a parked car opened their door and he drove into it because his reactions were not as quick as they used to be.
      Another issue is the matter of pride. Just as it was a huge leap of freedom and how proud you felt when you first got your drivers license, they have to let go of a lot of freedom and pride when they stop driving, and this is difficult to do.

      That said, old people are very dangerous on the road. Just because they might not be driving agressively or fast doesnt mean that they dont pose just as much, or more, danger than a teenage girl texting on her phone in her suv.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "How do you quanitfy exactly how much their reaction time has slowed and what the cutoff should be if you even could quantify that value"

        Simple, with ACTUAL driving tests, not just eye exams and whatnot. Young drivers need much more education than they're given. Senior drivers need to be tested on a regular basis in order to make sure that they're still fit for driving duty.

        As others have already said, make obtaining a license a more costly endeavor and put the money back into said education and (re)testing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think another reason oder drivers get to hang on to their keys regardless of ability is the fact any stricter sr. driver testing measures would be political suicide for any politician, given that the sr. citizen demographic's propensity to vote.
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