Elderly Drivers: To Test or Not To Test? - Granite Grok

Elderly Drivers: To Test or Not To Test?

Representative Bob Williams wants to discontinue road testing for Elderly Drivers. Is that a wise idea?

House Bill 549 eliminates the requirement for a road test currently in place for Granite State drivers over age seventy five. Prime Sponsor of the bill is 84-year-old Representative Bob Williams, a Concord Democrat. Williams calls the present law, “discriminatory” and has cajoled fellow law makers, Dick Hinch and Ted Rokas into co-sponsoring the bill with him.

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Union Leader’s Paul Feely. Williams goes on to say there is no evidence suggesting older drivers are less safe than other classes of drivers and says statistics tell us that drivers 75 and older in New Hampshire are safer than younger age drivers. While that might be true on its collective face by lumping all age classes of drivers together, such statistics are misleading.

Elderly drivers are on the road considerably less than any other age class of people. The reason that Seasoned Citizens show a statistically lower percentage of crashes than younger drivers do is reflective of their lower driving participation than that of the overall motoring public. Seniors tend not to go out when inclement weather strikes or at night. If hours spent on the road are measured, one might easily find that such statistics suddenly become alarming.

It is wrong to call the present law discrimination. Nobody will dispute that when we age there is a diminishing of motor skills and coordination. Diminishing vision, hearing and reaction time are all products of age progression and to characterize such medical certainties as discrimination is misguided. The requirement for testing drivers 75 and older merely tests drivers to see if they possess the requisite motor skills to be in full control of their motor vehicles. We set a minimum age when people can operate motor vehicles; there should be some point at which we ask people in the sunset years to demonstrate they can safely effectively do so.

Testing elderly drivers is not discrimination. It is sound public policy that serves a tangible safety concern. Moreover, we are all going to get there one day. Finally, when I die someday, I want to go like my Grandfather did…peacefully and in my sleep…Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

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