Con: Older drivers don't represent any greater danger

By Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Feb. 26, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 26, 2012 at 8:27 p.m.

Older drivers are as safe as those of any other age and should not be tested regularly.

Arthur Nelson, 84, has been driving for more than 60 years, and he just renewed his driver's license that allows him to cruise around Victoria in his Mazda, with his wife at his side.

Nelson said he does not think people should be tested based on their age.

"I don't see any excessive accidents involving seniors the way it is with young people, for example," Nelson said. "It should strictly be an individual's choice."

While older people are more likely to have impairments to their sight, reflexes and cognitive abilities, or to be taking medication that could effect them, the level of impairment can be very different for people of all ages, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In addition, the states that have tried using screenings to try to determine which drivers are more likely to have a wreck have had only inconclusive results, according to an institute report.

There has also been a steady decrease in the number of senior drivers involved in fatal accidents, according to an institute study from 2008.

Debra Garner, the director of the Victoria County Senior Citizens Center, said she feels all drivers should be tested.

"I firmly believe everyone should be tested every four or five years. We all have our disabilities and things can change a lot in a few years," she said. "I think we make it too easy."

Victoria resident Cowboy Chase was against any testing of seniors.

"If they have a clear driving record and they are still capable and don't have any health problems, their driving should be fine," Chase said.

Nelson agreed. Most people, if they feel their ability to safely operate a vehicle may be in question, will choose to stop driving on their own, or through their family, he said, so the state should not need to interfere.

"If someone is beginning to have trouble seeing or other serious problems, young or old, most people will consider that pretty seriously before getting behind the wheel. It should be something they talk to a doctor about, not a test through the state," he said.



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