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Bullock's Buzz: Mandatory Driver’s License Testing for Elderly?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mandatory Driver’s License Testing for Elderly?

Cars Do Not Belong in Buildings!

  There is a question I find myself considering almost every time I drive down the road and see someone do something incredibly stupid that either causes an accident or almost causes one, or every time I get stuck behind a driver doing 15 mph in a 45 mph zone, or every time I watch the news and see some bizarre accident and notice that seven out of ten times the driver is an elderly person.  That question is: should there be mandatory re-testing for a drivers license once a person reaches a certain age?
    On the way home from work today, James and I stopped at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to pick up a few items.  Getting out of the car and walking towards the store, we noticed the aftermath of a bizarre accident! This particular Wal-Mart Neighborhood Grocery has a covered walk way stretching across the length of the front of the store.  It is part of the actual building, constructed of brick with large plate-glass windows every few feet.  It is where the vending machines and propane tank exchange shelves are kept. 


   About an hour before we had arrived, an elderly gentleman had driven into the wall of this covered walkway crashing through one of the windows and narrowly missing the racks of propane tanks. It is nothing short of a miracle that nobody happened to be walking out of the store and through the walkway at that particular moment, or that nobody was walking across the driveway from the parking lot to go in the store on what was a beautiful Sunday afternoon!  It is amazing that the car came to a stop not two feet before crashing into the racks filled with dozens of full propane gas tanks! Thankfully nobody, the driver included, was injured.  The elderly driver had said he did not realize how quickly his car would accelerate.


   Although no people were hurt, I cannot say the same for the front of the store where an entire section was demolished leaving bricks, shards of glass and dust everywhere! The front end of the man’s car was not in very good shape either. I have to wonder what was going through that man’s mind.  Did he floor the accelerator and not realize how hard he was pressing? Or did he mistake the accelerator for the brake pedal? Whatever it was, this accident serves to increase the strength of my growing belief that once you reach a certain age, 70? 75?, you should be required to re-take the test for your drivers license, possibly even once a year.  Maybe this way, we can help prevent accidents like this one from occurring.


   Many of you know my father recently passed.  He was in his late 70’s, and for the last five or six years of his life, many of his friends and family refused to ride with him because it was such a scary experience.   He had always had a heavy foot and a defensive attitude when it came to driving, but it seemed like the older he got, the more scary he was to ride around with.  Not only would he drive fast, but it would take your breath away when he would come to a stop at a red light an inch behind the car in front, saying he had plenty of room.  He would switch lanes on the interstate like he was in some kind of video game, and he honestly could not understand why we were refusing to ride with him. 


   About three years ago he passed out behind the wheel, thankfully he was still in the parking lot of his friends restaurant.  We later discovered it had been a stroke, but after his stay in the hospital we learned that he would have to have a doctor examine him and give their okay before he would be allowed to drive again.  Apparently this is mandatory for stroke victims.  Though he didn’t see it, we all were well aware this was a blessing in disguise.  It turned out he never had that exam as his health quickly began to fail from that point on.  Point being, had he not had that stroke, how long would he have been driving around before getting confused and driving into a building or another car, or something worse?

   Going through his stuff I recently found a note he had written on the back of a piece of paper from around the time he learned he could not drive until he had a doctor’s okay.  He had written “Have to ask for a ride to work?! What a crappy life!” I can see how giving up the life-long freedom of driving yourself where ever you want to go, whenever you want would be depressing, and could make you feel helpless or hopeless.  I could see how it could cause problems if you are still working or if you have set appointments you need to get to and you don’t want to have to depend on someone else to get you there.  I can understand how it would not be so great to have to rely on someone else to take you places. But really, is all of that really worth the loss of someone else’s life or possibly your own?

----ADD ON---

   After reading several comments, I realized that I should have added something concerning the younger people who are out driving around like maniacs.  Then there are those who think they are invincible and drive around drunk or high.  They too, along with new drivers, middle-aged drivers, and all drivers...some just do not need to be behind the wheel.  I also should mention that plenty of my father's friends realize they should not be driving anymore due to certain limitations, so they don't.  And still others are just fine to be driving, still as attentive and careful as they were when they began driving 60 years ago.  Point being, I do realize it is just not elderly people causing accidents and making careless mistakes.

   What are your thoughts on mandatory re-testing for a drivers license once people reach a certain age?



At February 17, 2013 at 7:24 PM , Blogger Patricia Woolverton said...

Wow!! Yes I believe that once you get to a certain age it should be once a year. I have heard so many of these kind of accidents especially with the elderly. I am so glad he missed the propane tanks.

At February 17, 2013 at 8:11 PM , Anonymous Serena @ Thrift Diving said...

I think 55/60 sounds much too soon, but then again, I'm finding that both my mom and mother in law don't like driving at night because they can't see as well. So, yeah, I actually think that would be a good age to begin testing. Then again, I think a reasonable person would know that they're vision isn't great so they modify their driving. Elderly (say, 70), yes, maybe not be as clear to whether they're capable, and should be tested each year.

At February 17, 2013 at 8:26 PM , Blogger Alaina Bullock said...

It is hard to decide at what age it should begin, but I really think it should be done!

At February 17, 2013 at 11:03 PM , Anonymous jheylo said...

oh my! that is scary. I think old people shouldn't drive anymore because some of it are losing their focus anymore

At February 18, 2013 at 4:51 AM , Blogger MikiHope said...

Most of us "old" people (I am 62)-are well aware of our limitations--like night driving--which I will not do anymore. My Mom will be 92 this year and is still driving-albeit much slower and only in the daytime in order to get to doctor's appointments or food shopping. I can not take her all the time since I still work. She has told me that the day she is no longer allowed to drive is the day she will allow herself to die--and a lot of her friends feel the same way. Strangely enough she would probably still pass a drivers test--I have more problems with the young drivers who weave in and out of traffic at the speed of light-texting away or talking on the phone causing accidents to occur. There is a reason why insurance companies charge such high fees for those under 25!! I am not disagreeing that people over a certain age should be re tested--only that people under a certain age should be re-tested as well!!

At February 18, 2013 at 7:28 AM , Blogger Michele D said...

It's very scary when the elderly drive. I must agree there should be an age requirement to retesting. I see nothing wrong with it. It's safety for everyone.

At February 18, 2013 at 7:36 AM , Blogger Mama to 4 said...

wow, that is a shame. I do think the elderly should be re-tested. Their reflexes are not the same, neither are is their eyesite. For safety reasons for other people and for theirs I am a huge fan of retesting.

At February 18, 2013 at 8:58 AM , Blogger Mellissa Hanks said...

Honestly I think EVERYONE should have to be retested say every 7 years. I know when I went to drivers ed it was a joke! Which means the 40 people I was there with got poor instruction as well I learned from my mother. Heck the guy I was practice driving with got a geo metro high centered on the curb trying to parallel park.lol

At February 18, 2013 at 10:22 AM , Blogger Mommy Had A Little Blog said...

I agree with Melissa, I think everyone needs to be retested, regardless of their age. A lot of people I know, probably myself included, would not be able to pass a driving test if we had to right this minute.

At February 18, 2013 at 10:32 AM , Anonymous Dee from MadameDeals said...

I think everyone should be retested after a couple of years and then for the elderly once or every two years. My neighbor who is 90+ still drives to the grocery and it really scares me.

At February 18, 2013 at 1:40 PM , Blogger Diane said...

My father had a seizure in his early 50's while coming back from the grocery store and crashed into the front of a real estate office. Luckily the glass didn't break and the only damage done was done to a parking sign which he drove through. Other drivers saw him slumped over and knew it was a medical emergency and called 911. The cops drove his car back to our house to tell us he was taken to the hospital - This was before cell phones. I believe my father had to be seizure free for a full year (maybe longer) before he was allowed his license back. Luckily he never had another seizure again but Im glad they do have rules about letting stroke and people with seizures drive again!

At February 18, 2013 at 2:04 PM , Blogger Alaina Bullock said...

I agree! Thankfully, there are many elderly people who are well aware of their limitations and they do not drive knowing this. And, you made a very good point, many younger drivers cause a large majority of accidents, as do middle-aged drivers, so maybe they too should be re-tested as well. That is definitely a topic for another post.

At February 18, 2013 at 2:07 PM , Blogger Alaina Bullock said...

You make a great point about the mandatory re-testing for everyone, maybe every seven years. I have to agree with you, and I am not saying it is only the elderly that cause accidents as plenty of young and middle-age people cause them as well! Our driving test was a joke, too. I definitely think the entire process of getting and keeping your license needs to be re-vamped!

At February 18, 2013 at 2:08 PM , Blogger Alaina Bullock said...

I am so happy he was not injured, nor was anyone else! How scary that must have been! I, too, am very glad they have these rules in place!

At February 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM , Anonymous Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired said...

I think it's a good idea to have the elderly tested every now and then but I also believe more testing could be required for teenagers too. There was a hit and run here recently where an 81 year old woman was killed by a 16 year old girl. So sad.

I know accidents happen but I have to think that some of this should be the responsibility of the family and friends as well who thought the man in your post was too scary to drive with. Yes, it's difficult to take the keys away but what if he had killed someone? How much more difficult would that be to deal with and terribly sad too.

At February 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM , Blogger Christy Maurer said...

I would say that it would be a good idea for people over a certain age to be tested though I'm not sure at what age. Also, if they cannot pass, there needs to be an option for them to get around. Free taxi service? Busses? IDK but I know that most times their family members aren't around to help or they wouldn't be driving anyway.

At February 19, 2013 at 6:36 AM , Blogger RudeMom Cyndee said...

Wow, I am not sure about what age it should start considering my granny drove up until her 96 birthday with never being in one accident her whole life


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