Seniors are the most experienced drivers on the road, but experience alone does not keep other drivers safe. Unfortunately, as people age, their reflexes slow. They might also suffer from impaired vision and hearing. If they are taking medications, these can lead to further impairment.
As a result, several states have separate renewal regulations when it comes to seniors versus the rest of the population. This helps them to better monitor whether seniors are still safe drivers.
States vary when it comes to how long a driver’s license lasts before it is time to renew it. The AAA Foundation estimates a length of one year to 12 years. Here are the main findings to keep in mind when examining all 50 states:
- 45 states require people to renew their licenses in person, but only 14 states require that every renewal gets done in person.
- 29 states require people to renew every other cycle in person and two states require every third renewal in person.
- 21 states create shorter renewal period requirements for seniors.
- 47 states allow people to self-report medical conditions.
- 23 states conduct field vision tests and 37 states test for visual acuity for all in-person renewals, regardless of age.
According to another report provided by the AAA Foundation, North Carolina requires at least a 20/40 vision acuity for people to receive a driver’s license with no restrictions. If people are blind in one eye, then the other eye must have 20/70 vision acuity.
Like North Carolina, Virginia requires 20/40 vision acuity for a person to get licensed to drive without restrictions. There are no explicit additional requirements if someone is blind in just one eye.
As people age into their senior years, they become less able to react quickly to other drivers’ mistakes and are more likely to make a few, themselves. While mobility is an important part of growing older and aging in place, states could do more collectively to ensure seniors are fit to drive.