The safety of elder drivers, or those over the age of 65, is a topic of continuing debate in the United States. A strong evidence base shows that elder drivers are more prone to being involved in car accidents in general, and are even more prone fatal accidents. Most states have enacted statutes or regulations that aim to identify and prohibit older drivers that are incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. Some states, however, have no provisions that address this issue.
Despite the increased accident risk, there are sound reasons for opposing provisions to restrict elder drivers on the road. A driver’s license may be an elder person’s only way of gaining access to food, health care, and other necessities if they lack public transportation options or other assistance in their area.
The issue brief sets forth the evidence base that shows that elder drivers have a higher propensity for car accidents. It discusses the legal approaches currently used across the United States, and shows the evidence base that justifies intervention as well as the unintended consequences of doing so.
State laws vary with respect to elder drivers. In most states, an administrative agency (e.g. the state motor vehicle administration) had discretion in requiring testing (e.g. vision or road) upon driver’s license renewal. In addition to a general provision of this nature, several states impose specific requirements on elder drivers. The 50-state compilation summarizes elder driver laws in each state.