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Massachusetts considering auto policy to retest senior drivers

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the state's auto policy to require drivers over the age of 85 to pass a road test and eye exam every five years to renew their driver's license, according to the Boston Globe.

Governor Deval Patrick and Rachel Kaprielian, the state's heads of the motor vehicle registry, have recently begun advocating for the new license requirements due to growing concerns about the safety of some senior drivers.

Other possible changes to state auto policy could require all drivers to take a road test on even-numbered license renewals.

New Hampshire and Illinois are the only states to currently require retesting for drivers 75 and older, but two recent accidents involving senior drivers that caused injuries have brought renewed attention to the subject in Massachusetts.

According to researchers from the University of Massachusetts, cognitive slowing and diminished peripheral vision contribute to an increase in some kinds of accidents by older drivers.

But research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found a decline in fatal crashes involving older drivers from 1997-2006, despite the growing number of seniors on the road.

The study may suggest that older drivers substantially limit their own driving as they experience declines in their health, vision and memory, researchers said.

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