Older Drivers

As we get older, our driving skills eventually decline. And you may know a senior citizen who you think should not be on the road. In Virginia, there are no special requirements for older drivers renewing their licenses. But there is a process set up that allows anyone to take action if they think someone is not safe to drive.

Vernon Musselman and Dick Dickerson have been friends for 54 years. Dick is 83 and still drives. Vernon is 91. He stopped driving three years ago. One reason was safety.

"So I asked the doctor I said what do you think about my driving? He said well, just to be honest with you I think you probably should not drive because you're not going to see out to the side, the side road, cars coming in,” says Vernon.

Since they're both senior citizens, you may be surprised to learn Vernon and Dick think older drivers at some age should go through more testing in order to keep a license.

"But I'd like to know if I'm still capable of driving. And I'd like some tests be given to me to prove that I am,” explains Dick.

The DMV does require a vision test. Dick took it when he renewed his license at 81. But every other time you renew, you can use the Internet, mail or phone. So when Dick renews at age 86, he could skip the vision test, and wouldn't have to take it until he's 91.

"I do not want to kill myself or my wife or especially someone else that I do not know, or a loved one that I might kill," says Dick.

A study in 1999 by George Mason University found that mature drivers do not cause crashes in a disproportionate way when compared with other drivers. And that there is no clear correlation between age and safe driving practices.

But there are individuals, elderly or younger, who have become unsafe to drive. What can be done? The DMV has a process known as medical review - where they re-examine a person's driving privileges. The department can require a medical report or a vision report, a knowledge test or a road test.

Officer John Campbell of the Harrisonburg Police Department says, "If I can fill out a medical review on someone, have them re-tested, have certain restrictions imposed on them, they do not get into that traffic crash, then I feel I've done my duty as a police officer."

The DMV gets 100 to 200 medical review requests per week. And while most are filed by police, you can do it, too. To submit a request, you'll need to give your name, address and phone number so you can be contacted for possible follow-up. And unless you're a relative or doctor, the driver has the right to know who submitted the request.

To find out more about medical review or get a copy of the form, go to the Web site, www.dmvnow.com

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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