Possible New Regulations for Older Drivers in Va.

Feb. 25, 2014

Older drivers in Virginia could facing some tougher new regulations when it comes to renewing their license,

A bill passed by the Senate Monday night, and now headed to Governor Terry McAuliffe, lowers the age at which older drivers face mandatory vision tests from 80-years-old to 75-years-old.

The bill also lowers the license renewal from every eight years to every five, and calls for the creation of a mature-driver, crash-prevention course which a court could send older drivers to after an accident.

Some seniors agree that while it might not be necessary for everyone the measure is worth it.

"It isn't that my judgment is incorrect, it's that is may take longer to reach the conclusion. And if it takes longer to reach the wheel I could still hit the other car and I don't want to take that chance," said 88-year-old Willis Abbey.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while the number of fatal crashes involving a person 70 or older has declined, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older.

The increased fatal crash risk among older drivers is largely due to their increased susceptibility to injury, and some say the bill singles seniors out.

"I think reports recently say older drivers are better drivers and safer drivers than young people are, and so I'm not in favor of having to renew more often," said 74-year-old Beverly Whitlock.

The IIHS found that per 100,000 people, the rate of fatal crashes of 20-24 year olds in 2012 was higher than it was for those ages 85 and older.

"We've been driving a long time, experience. We don't go gunning it, speeding down the road," said Whitlock. "We drive safely and try to be watchful of other drivers."

Abbey said that while he likes to drive, he has become more cautious.

"I stick to a good slow speed. I don't pass all the cars I used to pass," Abbey said.

AAA found that 52 percent of the Virginias it surveyed are in favor of the new measure.


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