Patch's Poll: Should Elderly Drivers Be Subjected To Greater Restrictions?

AAA says a crash involving a 100-year-old man is a wake-up call for families to have a conversation with the aging drivers in their life.


The crash involving a 100-year-old driver who injured school children in Los Angeles days ago drew national attention to the issue of aging drivers on the road.

While the nationally-publicized incident raises public concerns about senior drivers, AAA says it is a myth that seniors are among the nation’s most dangerous. Instead, AAA's Jake Nelson said just the opposite is true. 

“Recent data tells us that drivers in their 70s get into about the same number of crashes per mile driven as do drivers in their 30s,” said Nelson, who is AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research.  “On average, drivers in their mid- to late-80s still have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers — the nation’s riskiest drivers.”

But AAA notes that with 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families are faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones.

In Los Angeles, a 100-year-old man named Preston Carter injured 14 people, including 11 school children, after driving onto the sidewalk after backing out of a nearby parking lot, according to the Associated Press.

Carter's daughter, Rose Jenkins, told NBC Los Angeles, "I think this is a wake up call and I don't think he'll be driving any more."

AAA agreed.

“The driver’s daughter Ms. Jenkins was right that this crash was a ‘wake up call.’  We know from research that families don’t know where to turn for help or how to get the conversation started,” said Nelson. “AAA urges families to prepare now, before they get their own wake up call.”

Nelson said a national AAA survey shows 80 percent of senior drivers “self-police” their driving by voluntarily avoiding one or more higher-risk driving situations like driving at night or during rush-hour times of day. AAA has also found that age, on its own, is not what leads to a loss of driving skills. Instead, medical conditions that come with aging — which can affect drivers as early as in their 40s — are what commonly reduce driving ability.

What do you think? Should Connecticut have any additional requirements or testing for older drivers? Take our poll and share your thoughts on the issue in the comments section of this article.

Sarah orr September 04, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Retaking of the drivers test every time they renew. Provide this at no cost because many are on a fixed income and this would add financial burden.
Kristin W. September 04, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Crash rate is one thing. What is the comparison to crash severity? Though I would complete believe that older drivers get more media attention if they have accidents so they can do stories like "Are Older Drivers a Danger to Themselves and Others?" or "Is it time for Grandma to give up her license?" - more at 11! In this age of sensationalized journalism, facts and data are treated as irrelevant.
George Lazare September 05, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I cant wait until you get old
Clark van der Lyke September 05, 2012 at 02:03 AM
I guess I am old, but still a good driver. I was happy to convince my mother to give up her license at my age. Truth is, she was a bad driver at 30. Some of the worst drivers I see today are in their 20's, about the age that you think you will never die. That is a bad time of your life to drive and with luck people get past that without killing themselves or someone else. I would rather trust a 75 year old driver than a 25 year old drunk any day. It is all a matter of perspective. The only thing I avoid is high speed and night driving. I am much more careful now than I was at 30 or 40. OK, I did back into a fence post a few years back, but I backed into a stone wall when I was 16. Not much improvement I guess.
Corey Sipe September 05, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Due to deteriorating eyesight and lack of some to even drive close to the speed limit (old folks I pass on I-395 going 50 MPH when the speed limit is 65), everyone over the age of 60 should be required to retake visual driving test's. We cannot afford to have folks on the road if they cannot see where they are going, no matter what the AAA statistics show in terms of the rate of accidents that they cause. One accident is too many. There are dangerous drivers of all ages out there yet I fail to see the police pull many over except during holiday weekends when they are trying to run up their media-publicized statistics. But do they report statistics the rest of the year? No. Isn't that strange?
jane September 05, 2012 at 09:15 AM
I was the 'don't know' vote. I cannot find any compelling reason statistically to make older people re-test. Experience may be just as valuable as the reaction time of a younger man. And reaction time in down the drain when that younger man is going too fast or has a cell phone to his ear. Older, experienced drivers tend to not put themselves in situations they cannot handle. And ya - I get frustrated sometimes behind an older driver, but usually they are following the speed limit and I want to break it.
farm guy September 05, 2012 at 11:01 AM
The DMV can't handle the number of people we have trying to get licenses now. If an elderly person has a spotless record, there is no reason to test them again. There needs to be a reason for taking the next step and it should be across the board with all people. The elderly people I know avoid situations they are not comfortable with such as driving at night, in the rain, snowy days, etc. If I could choose to keep a demographic off the road, it would be 16-24 year olds. They're the ones wrapped around trees, just look at all the crosses along the sides of roadways.
farm guy September 05, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Funny comment, Clark. I'll agree with you. I had my share of fender benders when I first started out and have a spotless record for the last 30 years- except the mailbox across the street. That was OK though, because the guys wife wanted a new one anyway!
farm guy September 05, 2012 at 11:07 AM
I know, I'm full of comments today, but here is what I see on the roads, Jane. Cars speeding beyond belief, but staying in the left lane are almost always young girls. Cars going not quite as fast, but still speeding and taking chances weaving through traffic are most often boys. What are your thoughts?
The Looking Glass September 05, 2012 at 08:53 PM
There is a missing age group on the list. The 30-50 year old drivers. The parents and "experienced" drivers. Everyday when I drive to work in the morning, I am almost run off the road by men in suits and ties flying around me on the highway (70+ in a 55 zone). Or in the afternoon/night when I am driving home being tailgated and nearly rear ended by vans carrying children in the backseat. It seems to me that it is the middle age group that needs to rethink how they drive above all other age groups. How would they feel if it were their children or their parents they were about to hit. It takes everyone to make the roads safe. Taking that one call or making that one text can change someone's life forever, your own or even that innocent person who happened to be near you and you hit. People use the "It can't happen to me" mentality all the time, but guess what, it very well could be you. When will people stop making the wrong decisions behind the wheel. How many more people have to be killed before people wake up and realize that a vehicle can be a deadly machine and not just a luxury. It is up to everyone to make the right choices to save lives, their own included.


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