Often times if one asks another what age group they think is the most dangerous drivers one would say teenagers. Lately there have been many reports claiming that these thoughts are no longer true and that elderly drivers are considered the most dangerous age group on the road. The Washington Post said that in the age group sixty- five and over have accounted for “sixteen percent of all traffic deaths and eight percent of the injured, but they accounted for thirteen percent of the population.” With statistics so high why is there no questions being asked about the ability the elderly have to drive. Research shows that the older one gets the worse their vision and hearing can get these are two key senses you need when driving. The loss of these two senses can be the difference between life and death on the road. Death rates for drivers begin to climb after age sixty-five, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University. The elderly should have to prove to the Registry of Motor Vehicles that they are capable of driving by retesting, completing and passing a drivers education course, or putting an age limit on how old one can be until one they are considered no longer able to drive.
In todays society the drivers test in Massachusetts is not very difficult. Often times at the Braintree Registry of Motor Vehicles takes on average seven to ten minutes. The test is not a proper assessment of a persons ability to drive. It consists of parallel parking once driving on the main streets following the rules of the road, and doing one three point turn. It is true that times have changed but, so have the rules of the road, so who is to say that the rules you learn when your sixteen are going to be the same when your sixty or seventy years old. In the past twenty years alone where one should have their hands on the wheels has changed. It used to be that one should have their hands positioned at ten and two but, according to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (The RMV) the safest and best place to have ones hands positioned is “ nine and three.” If the rules of the road have changed we can expect that so has the “Road Test” itself. If the Untied States were to instate laws that made it so people over a certain age had to retest it would make the roads safer because then any question of a persons ability to drive at the age they are would be irrelevant.
Drivers Education is something that is not required for drivers to take when they are going to take their road test. However it has been proven through the Texas Transit Institute that the drivers who have taken and completed the drivers education course are less likely to get into accidents than those who have been parent taught. The elderly are already considered the age group were the drivers are the most dangerous if one includes an elderly driver and one that has not been properly educated are an even greater risk to the general public. A way we can make it so that the elderly are less of a safety threat is that if the United States made it mandatory for senior citizens to complete a drivers education course so that they possess the skills that they need to become a capable driver.
In life there are always age requirements. One must be sixteen to drive, eighteen to join the military, and twenty-one to drink or buy alcohol. With all these age requirements it is hard to believe that the country has not put any age limits on certain things such as driving. Driving is one of the biggest responsibilities an individual gets in their life time, they are responsible for the safety of not only themselves but everyone else on the road as well as pedestrians. Drivers are responsible for the well being of everyone on the road around them the older people get often times the more dependent they become on others. If we leave the elderly drivers on the road we are causing a safety threat to the public. If the government can place an age requirement on how old one must be to gain these privileges why should they not be allowed to place an age restriction in the interest of public safety. On July 16 of 2003 in California an eighty-six year old man named George Russell Weller killed ten people and injured more than seventy people when he drove into a farmers market when he had mistaken the gas and break pedals. This is just one example of many incidents where the elderly have proven that they are unfit to drive.
Through out the years the elderly have proven often that they are a hazard on the road. It is not that they do not know what they are doing, they just no longer possess the skills to drive in a manner that is safe for everyone to be on the road. It is not unconstitutional for the government to take away the elderly right to drive it may not be the most popular decision but someone needs to take action and look out for the greater good.