Mandatory Testing Needed for Elderly Drivers
In July of 2003, an eighty-four year old man drove through a crowded farmer’s market in Santa Monica, California, killing ten people, including a seven-month old and a three-year old. He also injured around forty others. According to many news reports, the driver apparently panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake, speeding through the crowded street. This mistake is common among elderly drivers who no longer possess the necessary skills to safely operate a vehicle. Either their vision has become poor, they are no longer able to react quickly, or their cognitive abilities have begun to deteriorate. Some older drivers do not realize they are becoming unsafe on the road, while others simply do not want to give up their keys. Still others are perfectly capable of driving safely well into their eighties or even nineties. Because of the variation in driving abilities and the high incidence of fatal accidents among older drivers, states need to ensure the safety of our streets and highways by passing laws requiring motorists over the age of seventy to pass frequent road and vision tests.
Although many people agree that elderly drivers are a high-risk age group, some critics of mandatory testing call it a form of age discrimination. This statement, however, is entirely untrue. Mandatory testing and frequent license renewal are not products of age discrimination, but rather precautionary measures to ensure the safety of both the driver and all others on the road, much like the laws governing teenage drivers. Teen drivers cause more fatal accidents than any other age group; therefore, states have legislation specific to that group of drivers. Those laws, though age specific, are not criticized as discrimination, and laws geared toward senior drivers should not be considered discriminatory either.
Elderly drivers are right behind teens in the number of fatal crashes they cause, and statistics...
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