My Mother turned 80 years old and had to take both a driving test and a written test to renew her license as an elderly driver in Illinois. Every time I spoke with her on the phone, she was studying her state’s driver handbook. She was clearly worried that she may not pass the driving or written portion of the test. One time I called and she said she couldn’t hear me. At first I was concerned that her hearing was going. Maybe we had a bad connection. Then she admitted that she had the phone upside down and was speaking into the receiver. Although I assured her that she is a very good driver, she did end up flunking the driving test because she blew through a solid yellow light that turned red before she was out of the intersection. Illinois state law requires that after 80, she will need to renew her license every two years. And after 87, she will be required to renew it every year.
License renewal procedures vary from state to state but tend to follow the same pattern. In addition to taking a written test and a driving test, most states also require a vision test, hearing test (thank goodness) and a medical evaluation. Doctors and family members can also submit requests to the DMV to conduct unsafe driver investigations before license renewal. I have found it to be true that independence is very important to the elderly and once someone is forced to give up driving, they often slip into depression. But, if driving is becoming a danger to themselves and to others, this may be the only resort. Now that we have inexpensive ways to get a lift (such as Uber and Lyft), one can still be independent without actually driving.
Another thing that will help as an elderly driver is taking a defensive driving course. This will not only lower your insurance rates but will also double as an excellent refresher course regarding both new laws and existing laws. Your insurance agent should be more than happy to give you an insurance discount as a reward for making an effort to be a better driver.
Until next week…
Writer / Artist / Comedienne
Elderly Driver – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com