As we age, our cognitive, sensory, and motor abilities naturally deteriorate. Nearly every one of us will one day have to make the difficult decision to hang up the car keys for the last time. Some people give up driving in their 50’s due to poor night vision. Some people choose not to drive anymore once they hit 60 years old because they always have friends, children, grandchildren, and public transit to bring them places. Others drive into their 70’s, though such seniors sometimes put other drivers at risk.
It is undeniable that the older drivers get, the more dangerous it becomes to share the road with them. In 2017, over 7,700 seniors died from car accidents and another 257,000 were sent to the ER due to a car accident, according to the US Government’s Center For Disease Control. The CDC mentions some of the reasons for this: “Age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, might affect some older adults’ driving abilities.” According to the American Heart Association, 6.5% of men aged 60–79 had a stroke between 2013-2016. Is that a risk that we are willing to take with our lives and the lives of our loved ones?
New Hampshire seemingly does not require seniors to pass any type of test in order to continue driving. Drivers of all ages can seemingly renew their license online every five years without demonstrating their abilities, vision, or competence. Considering how dangerous the elderly could be when behind the wheel, this is a law that must be changed. The fact is that the elderly have declining vision, cognition, reaction time, and decision making. They are also increasingly vulnerable to medical emergencies like strokes, seizures, fainting, heart attacks, and many other issues that could cause them to lose control of their vehicle and gravely endanger those around them.
Additionally, it is our responsibility to protect our beloved elders from harming themselves and from the pain they would feel if they were to harm others. Passing a bill restricting the driving rights of senior citizens is pure common sense.
Numerous US states have various restrictions for drivers above the age of 65. Oregon requires drivers to pass a vision test with each renewal once they reach 50 years of age. New Hampshire did require a road test for drivers above the age of 75, but an 86 year old politician changed the law and we are now one of the few states that has no restrictions for elderly drivers – almost like anarchy!
Such a bill could have various methodologies. It could simply revoke the license of every driver when they turn 70. It could require annual road tests and vision tests, and maybe even a basic health screening. It could stratify risk based on age, blood pressure, family history, and cholesterol. The possibilities are certainly broad. The important objective must be to ensure that our roads remain safe for everyone to travel on without worrying about avoidable dangers. For the people who might worry about personal liberties being violated by such a bill, the New Hampshire constitution clearly states that: “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.” Surely, every law-abiding citizen would obey such a law if it were to pass – especially elected officials who swore to uphold the New Hampshire Constitution.
Most politicians seem to believe that citizens should be punished and that their rights should be usurped preemptively. Long before they commit a crime or even endanger anyone, people should be stripped of their rights, freedoms, money, and due process, according to politicians.
Here’s the challenge: Being that so many politicians are senior citizens – many of which have debilitating illnesses – will they willingly surrender their rights to operate vehicles when their time comes or will they admit that they are hypocrites?