If you have an older driver in your household – or if you are an older driver yourself – you may be wondering what your state law is about when and if you need to be tested. Some states have no special requirments based on age. Some require older drivers to renew in person. Many require vision tests or proof from an optometrist that vision has been tested.
Few, if any, states require road tests for aging drivers. Several states have looked into laws to impose manadatory tests after a certain age (often age 75), but these have generally been defeated, either because there was not sufficient evidence that they would reduce collisions, or because they were viewed as discrimantory. However, most states will accept reports of potentially dangerous drivers from police, family or other observers and may require tests based on such reports. Some states also allow tests to be required at renewal based on observations of potential impairment by registry of motor vehicle employees. Selective tests based on reports or observations aren’t necessarily restricted by age! Some states will revoke licenses based on any problems that turn up, while others impose restrictions, such as driving only in daylight hours.
There’s no consistency state to state – here’s a handy State by State Look at Driving Rules for Older Drivers.
Aging drivers should be aware that there are many new safety tools that can help reduce risks commonly associated with aging, such as diminished vision. See the Top 10 Car Technologies For Mature Drivers, as well as 10 Vision Safety Tips for Older Drivers.
It would be ideal if everyone could self-assess and make the decision to limit or stop driving as they feel abilities diminish – some peopel do indeed do that. But because giving up a car is so tied with independence, many are reluctant to give up driving. And some may lose objectivity – they may “feel” like they are still driving safely. It often requires intercession of a caring family member or friend. See our prior post on Helping senior drivers to make a tough decision: hanging up the keys.