Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Driver Testing For Elderly Drivers
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney
Often we hear of car crashes involving elderly drivers where serious injuries or death results for other drivers or pedestrians. As a result, people across the nation have called for automatic revocation of a driver’s license after a certain age and others want testing for drivers after they reach age 65.
Though Kentucky does not have any age-specific renewal rules, 33 states and District of Columbia have special provisions for mature drivers including accelerated renewal frequency, vision tests, road tests, and restriction of online or mailed renewals.
Kentucky law currently does not require driver testing for elderly drivers after they reach a certain age. However, if a driver is a risk, regardless of age, there are steps that can be taken to get a dangerous driver off the roads. However, it is important for family members and friends to recognize signs of reduced ability to drive in senior citizens and take action for the safety of all. Some of those signs include the following:
• Driving at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow;
• Asking passengers to help check if it is clear to pass or turn;
• Responding slowly or failing to respond to pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers;
• Ignoring, misinterpreting or disobeying street signs and traffic lights;
• Failing to yield;
• Becoming easily frustrated or angry;
• Appearing drowsy or confused;
• Having one or more near accidents or near misses;
• Drifting across lane markings or bumping into curbs;
• Forgetting to turn on headlights after dusk;
• Having difficulty turning head, neck or shoulders while driving or parking;
• Ignoring automobile mechanical problems;
• Having too little strength to turn the wheel quickly in an emergency situation;
• Getting lost repeatedly, even in familiar areas.
In addition, the Kentucky Medical Review Board identifies drivers with physical or mental impairments which diminish their ability to drive safely. The Board consists of ophthalmologists, neurologists, psychiatrists and rehabilitation specialists. Drivers may be reported to the Medical Review Board for one of the following reasons:
• The driver has blacked out, lost consciousness or suffered a seizure prior to a reportable motor vehicle accident;
• The driver has been reported by a physician as being incapable of driving safely due to a physical or mental condition, or due to medication;
• The driver’s official record at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet indicates a possibility of physical or mental impairment;
• The driver has been reported by a commonwealth attorney, county attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, sheriff or judge as being incapable of driving due to a physical or mental impairment; and/or
• At least two citizens have signed an affidavit describing the driver as incapable of driving due to a physical or mental impairment.
Affidavits can be obtained at a Circuit Court Clerk’s Office or by calling the Medical Review Board at (502) 564-1257. After the Medical Review Board has received the completed affidavit, it will review the information and notify the individual of its decision regarding driving privileges.
By and large, senior citizens statistically have a per-capita lower crash rate than other age groups. Moreover, senior citizens are some of the safest and most courteous drivers on our roads. Hopefully, the above information will help identify those few elderly drivers that really need to consider surrendering their license for everyone’s safety.
If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.