Should older drivers have to take extra tests or exams?

As members of the baby boom age, an increasing percentage of American drivers are turning 65 or older. Today’s Question: Should older drivers have to take extra tests or exams?

  • I would think the technology exists that would test the reaction time and reflexes of older drivers, as well as a vision test.

  • I drive over 25,000 miles each year, logging most of those miles in the Twin Cities, and I see a lot of very bad driving. Older drivers really don’t seem to be the problem. You hear it all the time because it is true…cell phones and driving don’t mix well. But there are many other violations. Who stops at stop signs anymore? In my neighborhood not even school buses or the police care much about them. And no one in this state knows how to merge in traffic. I think we would be better off if everyone had to retake an exam or two periodically. Experience makes too many drivers lazy or overly self-confident…or just plain selfish…on the road. That’s a bigger problem than age.

  • Matt A

    I think a test approximately every 10 years for all drivers seems reasonable.

  • gcb

    Absolutely. We are seniors and drivers and really want to know when to give up the keys. On the other hand, what we see with teens, young adults, boomers on the road is unbelievable. Driving one handed while chatting on a cell should be cause for a steep penalty. We have even seen police doing this! Just one more reason to have adequate public transportation. When will MN get this?

  • Jason Ziniel

    I think it is very important to keep the roads safe. Not only should older/elderly drivers have to take at least a yearly test, but everyone should be tested on real driving conditions every few years. Some people really suck at driving and should not have a license.

  • Lou

    Yes I believe that older drivers should be tested frequently to verify that they have the reflexes to drive. I also believe that speed limits should be adhered to, cell phones should not be used while driving, DWI penalties should be harsher, seat belts should always be worn, etc. There are many ways to increase the safety of the driving public and denying driving licenses to unfit older drivers is one of them.

  • Amy

    YES!! I am all for allowing seniors to maintain driving privileges as long as possible as long as they are driving safely. I have heard way too many stories about seniors driving when they can’t see well any more, have dementia and forget where they are going and worst, driving when they are taking medications wrong and in effect are under the influence.

  • David Norris

    I definitely agree with the other comments suggesting that younger drivers and drivers with cell phones and other devices are just as much of the problem; but it is dangerous to not have stricter standards in place to ensure that seniors are fit to drive. We perhaps need better transportation options to make it easier for seniors to get around and not have to drive. Having a system like that in place would then be there for the rest of the population as it ages.

    However, I wonder if regular, mandated driver testing for the everyone would change things. After all, we’re talking about influencing people’s perceptions and values about the road, and those can’t be mandated. Perhaps this view is the more cynical, but it doesn’t seem like driving conditions will change until people change.

  • Kevin VC

    Its not just older drivers to be honest.

    It should be tested and informed every few years for everyone.

    One thing I would love to do is have simulation training required for with and without a cell phone.

    Demonstrating the factor most accidents now occur due to someone was using a cell and thus their attention was divided.

    Its been shown as worse then drinking and driving in some cases.

    But Older or anyone who is prone to motor skill loss should be tested. Not all older people are the same.

    People age better then others or just are more ‘aware’ then others.

    Then again it might be the older drivers are more prone to drive the speed limit…..

  • Darren

    Absolutely! It seems reasonable to me that once you start reaching 65 that you should need to be cleared by your physician every 2 years to certify that you are fit to drive. I also agree with the other points mentioned and maybe it makes sense to have everyone test every 5 or 10 years as a refresher.

  • Margaret

    Yes, I truly believe older drivers should be tested at least every four years. My neighbor is deaf, suffers from depression and now appears to be losing her mind. Watch out!

    One of the LRT accidents was an elderly man driving into the train. The family should have reported him and had his license revoked. Fortunately, no one was injured but him.

  • David

    YES! But so should everyone else!

    Since I got my license at the age of 16 the only proof I still deserve the privilege of driving is the ability to read 15 letters on an eye chart. That and not getting a DWI or driving without proof of insurance.

    I now commute 130 miles a day (and hate every second of it, thanks to those who destroyed my industries economy, and my homes value so I can’t sell it, but I digress), and the horrible lack of ability and simple common courtesy of the majority of drivers is truly horrendous. Especially considering how dangerous their actions can be. To be honest the older drivers are usually the more sane drivers on the road. Their biggest foible I usually witness is driving slowly in the left lane when not passing.

  • Elliott

    Bad driving goes through all age groups.

    As a European I was surprised by a number of things about learning to drive and the testing in Minnesota. When I learned to drive I was given over 50 hours worth of driving lessons, here there is a lot less. This I discovered when my wife learned to drive.

    Secondly, the test I took in the Twin Cities was not given on real roads but on a specially constructed site that had did not reflect the busy traffic the new driver would face in the real world.

  • Ben Chorn

    Old people are some of the most imposing drivers making everyone drive under the speed limit- even in the fast lane. They also seem the least aware of whats going on around them… The only accident I’ve been involved in? An old lady (over 65) decided that stopping at a stop sign and then going without looking is okay. I hit her, she sped off. Luckily she decided to come back and complain to the cops her neck hurt. It might be true they dont get into as many accidents, but how much of a hazard do they pose to the rest?

  • Noelle

    I absolutely think they should be tested regularly after 65, but to echo many other comments here, I agree that EVERYONE should be tested every so often.

    I used to think older drivers were a big problem on the roads – we were rear-ended by an older couple going 35mph while we were at a dead stop when I was a kid, and my 90 year old grandmother didn’t realize she shouldn’t be driving anymore until she got in an accident because she wasn’t really aware of what was going on around her anymore. However, I think cell phones are a much bigger issue, and if more people drove a standard transmission vehicle, it wouldn’t be as big of an issue – at least in the cities and ‘burbs. I drive stick, and wouldn’t dream of answering my phone when it’s inevitable I’m going to have to shift at some point.

  • Sue de Nim

    Testing lots more drivers sounds like a government jobs project requiring the employment of lots more inspectors. Maybe it would be more reasonable to require drivers who get, say, three moving violations in a year to study and pass the test again.

  • Bill Forbes

    I would have commented sooner but I figured I should wait and do it from my phone while tailgating some old fart only driving 10 mph over the limit on University Ave. I mean, Baby Boomers–driving–Eww…Gross!

  • Philip

    I think everyone ought to take periodic exams, say every 10 years as a refresher. Once a person hits a certain age, then it should be more frequently. We already have limitations on minors driving and since driving is a privilege and not a right, then people should be tested.

  • I believe everyone ought to take mandatory tests every so often. Many people may experience degenerative problems that they may not perceive as being so dangerous, and for everyone’s safety, everyone should be considered. It’s harder to get on an airplane than it is to get a driver’s license.

  • paul

    At 67, I am a better driver than the 20 something that is driving with a phone in their ear.

    I would suggest every 5 years or trafic ticket. This might be the revenue source the state needs.

  • Randy McLaughlin

    Why do you prefix the question with “As members of the baby boom age”? Not a single baby boomer has reached 65 and yet the media is out to blame us for wrecking social security, medicare and now suggesting that we are a danger on the streets.

    As long as we design our communities with the assumption that everyone can drive and with precious little means for someone who cannot or should not drive to have access to the necessities of day-to-day life it is going to be very difficult to limit driving privileges.

  • Phyllis

    Yes, the state of Illinois tests more frequently after 75, and this renewal requires a road test . . My father who lives in Chicago just gave up his license at 90. Elders often do not realize that they are no longer safe, and are unwilling to listen to family. Having the state more closely monitoring driving ability, not only eyesight, just makes sense.

  • Charles

    Driving is a privilege we should all take periodic tests to insure we have the safest drivers on the road. This would also allow further training as laws change and reminders for people that “forget” baxic rules and courtesties.

  • Joanna

    Yes, absolutely. My grandfather had to be forced to stop driving, even after he had two accidents–fortunately nobody was hurt. Periodic tests for all drivers is not a bad idea. Increased law enforcement of safety laws is the other piece: drunk drivers, cell phone abusers, speeding on city streets, stop sign blowers—we all see violations of the law around us. Target high volume streets and stop people. give them tickets. make them perform sobriety tests.

  • Jennifer

    I think EVERYONE should be required to retake their tests – both written and behind-the-wheel – on a periodic basis (every other renewal, say).

  • cristi

    Am si eu o intrebare la cit tin se reinoiesc analizele periodice la soferii profesionisti??si analizele periodice nu sunt valabile la angajare??