Driving test and seniors

When you get older do you have to take a driver's test more often to keep your driver's license? At what age does this begin?

In early March 2010, the United States Senate approved a driving-safety bill mandating that elderly drivers prove to their doctors that they are physically and mentally able to handle driving. This bill is placed stricter requirements on drivers over the age of 75. This new law requires doctors and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to develop tests to determine the physical and mental capabilities of the elderly driver. These tests most likely include tests for vision, hearing, reaction time, and another written and/or road test.

Currently, the majority of drivers have to appear at their District of Motor Vehicles (DMV) every ten years to renew their licenses and pass a vision test. At the five-year mark, these drivers may renew online, not having to appear in person. However, elderly drivers would have to appear far more frequently and not have the online renewal option. The House version of the bill mandated that drivers over 75 have to appear in person at the DMV every five years to pass a vision test to renew their license. The Senate modified it slightly by requiring doctors and the RMV to develop tests that elderly drivers must pass. Doctors then have to report the results to the RMV. This must be repeated every three years. Pennsylvania has a deficit reporting law, requiring doctors to report disabilities to the DMV that would affect driving ability. The bill also added that drivers over 80 must pass the test to renew their licenses every three years instead of five.

States differ in their treatment of elderly drivers. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, the only states mandating road tests for drivers over 75 are Illinois and New Hampshire. Illinois also requires that drivers between ages 81-86 renew their licenses every two years. Drivers 87 or older must renew annually. In New Hampshire, mandatory driving tests for the elderly are proving to cut down on the number of accidents involving elderly drivers. The road test requirement mandates that the elderly appear in person to renew their licenses. They must do this twice as often (every five years) as everyone else (every ten years). Massachusetts is attempting to follow suit but encountering opposition.

In answer to the question above, the only states requiring actual driving road tests after the age of 75 are Illinois and New Hampshire. In those states, road tests would be more frequent for elderly drivers. Practically all states require some form of increased testing (e.g., vision, reaction time, hearing) once they pass the age of 75. In some states, the age is lowered to 70.