Should There Be an Age Limit for Drivers?

High profile crashes such as Wednesday's case of a 100-year-old driver plowing into a group of schoolchildren raise sticky questions about age, safety and rights.

A car driven by a 100-year-old man struck a group of elementary school children Wednesday, injuring nine children and two adults.

Paramedics took the 11 injured people to a hospital. Four of the children were seriously injured. The accident happened at a South Los Angeles elementary school just after classes let out, authorities said. Driver Preston Carter, who said he turns 101 next month, told ABC7 he was backing out of a parking lot and his brakes failed. According to the Los Angeles Times, Carter has a spotless driving record.

Investigators have not indicated that the age of the driver was a factor in the crash.

California does not discriminate against the elderly when it comes to issuing driver’s licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicles does encourage drivers to reassess their reflexes as they grow older.

According to the department’s website, “studies show that as we all age, our reaction time slows down. And the statistics used every year by state motor vehicle departments and safety associations link reaction time with crashes.”

If you or someone you know is feeling uncertain about continuing to drive, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration list below to see if any of the signs listed apply to your situation:

  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the signs, signals, road markings, pedestrians and vehicles that you must pay attention to at intersections.
  • You take medications that make you sleepy.
  • You often get lost or become confused.
  • You experience dizziness, seizures or loss of consciousness.
  • You aren't confident that you can handle the demands of high speeds or heavy traffic.
  • You are slow to see cars coming out of driveways and side streets or to realize that another car has slowed or stopped ahead of you.
  • You have trouble seeing lane lines and other pavement markings, curbs, medians, other vehicles and pedestrians, especially at dawn, dusk and at night.
  • Friends and family express concern for your safety behind the wheel.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Jake Mooney August 31, 2012 at 07:15 PM
We should be a lot more concerned about the minimum age than the maximum.
MellowMaverick August 31, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I don't think you can categorically assign an age limit to being a good driver. Realistically, there are bad drivers of all ages. Age isn't the factor in most traffic accidents. Driving ability, distractions and impairment are. It's not an easy-fix problem. I do think that only giving Seniors a written test every five years may be short-sighted. A driving test may be more telling. But at what age would one require that?


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