Many senior drivers take umbrage at suggestions that they should be targeted for closer scrutiny when it comes to state-granted driver's licenses. They point to the accident rates of younger drivers and question why they should be singled out.
Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said the Senate will schedule hearings next month to see whether a case can be made for tougher testing or training requirements for older drivers. He emphasized the hearings would emphasize public safety in general and not be solely focused on seniors.
His announcement came in the wake of last weekend's traffic death of an elderly couple when their car collided with one driven by an 88-year-old woman. In July, an 86-year-old man sped through a market in Santa Monica, Calif., killing 10 and injuring dozens more.
Driver safety, at all ages, is certainly an issue worth investigating. There will be an increasing proportion of elderly drivers as baby boomers age. The Minnesota Department of Transportation said about 509,000 of the state's 3.65 million licensed drivers are 65 or older.
If the issue of elderly drivers is going to be addressed the families and friends of senior drivers are going to have to be key components. They're usually the first ones to notice when a senior's driving skills have gone down hill. It's a tough decision when someone has to confront a veteran driver and tell them they should give up their keys. Complicating that decision is the consequential problem of transporting the senior to various locations.
Minnesotans should be aware they can bring concerns about anyone's driving habits to the attention of Driver and Vehicle Services. The driver in question will be brought in for a personal interview, which could be followed up by tests.
The more concerned people and state agencies that have their hand in keeping our roads safe the better off all of us will be.
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