The Need for Stricter License Renewal Laws for the Elderly
“License Renewal Laws for the Elderly” is an essay by Trevor Bliss that presents an argument about the existing renewal laws of licenses for older people in America. It is about how these laws are inefficient in taming the damage caused by poor drivers, specifically elderly ones. He goes on to give reasons as to why these drivers should be subjected to tougher tests to ascertain their driving capability. The writer gives an example of an elderly driver who caused a fatal accident at a market in California, yet his defense team argued that it was a mere mistake due to old age (Lagorio,1). He had mistakenly used the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal. It is not proper that such mistakes are taken so trivially by the state and the public in general. There are more lives at stake if such drivers are left to use the roads freely, hence renewal laws for the elderly should be reviewed.
For years, the methods used to renew licenses have not been as strict as they should be. Renewal laws vary in each state, and while most require applicants to appear in person others allow for renewal electronically or by mail. In order to ensure that only worthy applicants are given the licenses, an effective measure is that of appearing in person. This way there is room for conducting various tests to guarantee that the applicants meet the desired requirements. Most of the elderly drivers tend to renew their licenses through mail, which is why they may not necessarily be fit to drive. The fact that they are old means that they are more prone to factors that indicate an unfit driver. Therefore, they should often be tested for reassurance that they can still drive safely.
Statistics show that a high number of people are almost attaining senior citizen status in California therefore more elderly drivers are going to be released on the roads. Clearly, this is going to pose more risk to road users. In order to put forward a convincing argument as to why the existing laws should be made stricter, a lot of evidence is required. This evidence is to illustrate my contention that elderly drivers are a threat to road safety and their acquisition of licenses should be made harder as they advance in age.
Various factors contribute to the reduction in driving ability among the elderly. Most of them are brought about by their old age. One of the common yet crucial factors is vision. Naturally, among humans, vision deteriorates with age, meaning the older one gets the poorer their vision becomes. Because to drive one has to see, a good driver should be able to focus, which requires clear vision. Although some measures can be taken to improve one’s vision such as wearing glasses, not everyone will see the need to correct their vision. More procedures that are stringent are required to ensure that only those with good eyesight are left to drive. This will help prevent many fatalities from occurring.
People with old age are susceptible to many illnesses, some of which affect various activities in their lives. One such activity is driving. These illnesses can affect both their physical and mental status, making them unfit to drive. It is important to note that though these are biological occurrences, they do not affect every old person. Therefore, those that are not affected may still be able to drive. On the other hand, this argument is about the percentage that is largely affected. Physically they include joint problems like arthritis, hearing problems, slow response to features in the environment, and assistance required in conducting daily activities. Mental and psychological issues include dementia, anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s and behavior disorders (Adler, 75-9)). Again, the need arises for rigorous tests to differentiate those that are affected from those that are not. Without seeing a license applicant in person, such tests are not possible and the affected persons are left to drive despite the great risk they pose to others and themselves.
The above illnesses can affect ability to drive in a number of ways. For instance, elderly drivers with Alzheimer’s have impaired driving skills whether at a mild or advanced stage of the disease. Such people can easily get lost even in familiar areas, not adhere to road signs due to low intellectual ability and failure to make informed driving decisions. All these facts contribute to unsafe driving, which is precarious to both the driver and other road users. Statistically a high number of accidents are caused by the elderly drivers, the same as youthful ones. The only difference is that young drivers have the time to polish their driving skills while elderly ones are experienced but just affected by their age. This implies that the fatal cases arising from young drivers can be corrected with time but those by elderly ones require tougher measures to contain.
Older people are more at risk on the roads and obviously, action against this fact needs to be taken immediately. This is why I am advocating for the need to implement tougher rules for people renewing their licenses. The public can help correct this situation by reporting elderly drivers who seem unfit to drive. Medical practitioners are also to report cases of severe illnesses among old people that could hamper their driving ability.
There are various reasons why people need to drive. So as not to deny them this pleasure by placing them at risk, it is important to ensure that the persons placed on the road are fit to drive. The above-mentioned facts about elderly drivers are reflected in the accidents on the roads. To prevent such happenings, strict license renewal laws should be put in place. This would help save many lives lost on the road through elderly drivers.
Adler, G. “Intervention Approaches to Driving and Dementia.” Health & Social Work. 32.1 (2007): 75-9. Print.
Lagorio, Christine. “No Jail For Elderly Driver In Market Crash.” CBS News 20 Nov. 2006. 12 May 2009