Older age requirements for driver's licenses are now in place in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The fatal auto accident rate begins to rise for drivers when they hit their 70s, jumps when they hit 80, and surpasses the crash rate for teen drivers after age 85. Illinois responds to the issue of aging drivers by requiring drivers older than 75 to take a road test when having their licenses renewed. When drivers turn 81, they get licenses that must be renewed every two years, instead of every four years. At 87, drivers must have their licenses renewed every year.
The National Institutes of Health indicates that older drivers get into accidents for different reasons than younger drivers. Older drivers get into more accidents at intersections, during lane changes and merging, and when making left turns. The accidents may be caused by vision problems, slower reaction time, and inability to gauge speeds. Younger drivers are much more likely to be injured in accidents caused by alcohol and/or speeding.
The AAA says in-person renewal is a vital component of improving safety by removing drivers who have lost their skills due to age. Driver's license office employees are then able to identify if the applicant has trouble walking or shows signs of confusion. Drivers who exhibit these signs can be required to take a road test or provide a medical report verifying that they are safe to drive.
By 2030, government estimates say there will be 23 million more drivers age 65 or older on the roads. The laws concerning licensing and older drivers will only increase in importance as we approach that time.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Older drivers face confusing array of license laws," by Lauran Neergaard, 17 September 2012