Keeping highways safe may mean requiring drivers to prove ability

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

By all accounts, the 83-year-old California man who killed 10 people last week when his vehicle plowed into a busy market was a kind soul who wouldn't harm anyone intentionally. Still, 10 people are dead because this elderly gentleman reportedly hit the accelerator rather than the brakes.

This horrific tragedy has rekindled the debate over the obligation of states to mandate some form of additional testing for drivers over age 65 to ensure they still possess the skills and faculties necessary to operate motor vehicles safely. Such debate is likely to increase in frequency and intensity as the Baby Boomer generation creates the largest class of senior citizens in this country's history. ...

Sadly, as most people age their sight deteriorates, and their reaction times are diminished and they can become confused. The bottom line here is that states have an obligation to all drivers to keep roads and streets safe. Driving is a privilege granted by states; it is not an absolute right. Requiring older drivers to prove their ability might remove some of them from the road, but it also might keep some of them from injuring or killing themselves or others.

Safety must be the deciding factor, regardless of age.

The Texarkana (Ark.) Gazette

July 22

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