Physically impaired, or wise from more experience?


Although older drivers have the most experience driving, some question their ability to drive safely on the road.

Cayla Carlson

When driving on the road, it is quite common to see a driver who tends to drive super slow or maybe seems a little unsteady. In some of these instances, it’s also quite common for the driver to be older. Situations like these are what lead to the big question many young and middle-aged drivers have: should those who reach the age of 70 be required to retake the road test

Besides driving slowly, younger drivers are also concerned that age can affect the way one drives a car in the same way it can affect physical and mental abilities, possibly inhibiting the safety of both the driver and the people around them.

Westport News describes how old age can worsen one’s visual and mental capacities, and while that may not be true for everyone, older people should retake the test to make sure their physical and mental abilities are satisfactory. This would ensure that an older driver is capable of driving on the road with other drivers and that all their senses are fully functioning as well.

Cognitive abilities may not be the only problem. Typically, older people are more physically frail than younger people and research from the American Automobile Association (AAA) indicates that underlying medical conditions like diabetes and heart conditions could potentially increase the risk of death from crash injuries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that most crashes that involved old drivers were likely to end in a fatality, because of how fragile their bodies are at a certain age.

The older and less cognitive one becomes, the slower and less aware they may be on the road. This can prove to be extremely dangerous, as an old driver with less cognitive function could run a red light or stop sign or disobey other road laws, resulting in themselves and others getting hurt. Additionally, as many as 15% of seniors in America experience visual impairment, navigating a road would become practically impossible. When it comes to the safety of the driver, their passengers and the other drivers on the road, retaking the driver’s test is just about the least drastic thing that can be done to solve this problem and prevent accidents.

Still, we have to give older drivers some credit. Years of being on the road has given them more experience and made them more aware of other people driving around them. And while some people’s cognitive abilities get worse, that is not always the case. According to the AAA, “Seniors are safe drivers compared to other age groups, since they often reduce risk of injury by wearing safety belts, observing speed limits and not drinking and driving.”

If someone knows that they are visually or physically impaired to the point where it affects their driving ability, then they should be off the road. Those who have these impairments but still want to drive should be responsible and retake the test.