How Texas Tries to Get Unsafe Older Drivers Off the Road
The fear of older drivers, whether justified or not, has driven state governments across the United States to address the issue. The solution? Many states have established laws that look closely at older drivers before issuing or renewing their licenses.
Some examples of these laws require older drivers to adhere to the following mandates:
- Shorter renewal periods. Nineteen states require drivers to renew their licenses more often after a specific age.
- Additional medical exams. Eighteen states require frequent vision testing for older drivers.
- Restricted renewal options. Fifteen states that allow drivers to renew their licenses by mail or online prohibit this option for drivers over a certain age.
With only a few exceptions, state governments and their law enforcement divisions regulate driving and traffic laws across the country. As a result, each state has the right to evaluate its own statewide traffic risks and establish laws based on their findings. The following requirements, with regard to older drivers, are the additional precautionary requirements that the Texas Transportation Code (sections 521.274 and 521.2711) imposes on drivers who are 79 years of age or older:
- License renewal requirements. Individuals over the age of 85 must renew their licenses every two years, as opposed to the normal renewal period of six years for drivers between the ages of 18 and 84. Drivers between the ages of 79 and 84 must always renew their licenses in person, as opposed to younger drivers who can renew by mail.
- Driver test or TxDOT reevaluation requirements. Everyone who applies for a license or renews a valid license is subject to a basic medical evaluation. Individuals who fail the evaluation must submit to a driving test to prove they’re able to safely operate a vehicle. However, individuals over the age of 79 are more likely to fail the basic medical evaluation, and are therefore routinely asked to take the driving test at each renewal. During these tests, additional restrictions or conditions can be placed on the driver’s license. These restrictions may include corrective lens or hearing aid requirements; ability to drive only when another driver age 21 or older is in the front seat; speed limitations; driving period restrictions (only allowed to drive in the daytime); and restricted highway access.
- Vision test requirements. Individuals over the age of 79 are required to take a vision test every time they renew their licenses. The Texas Department of Transportation’s standard for visual acuteness is at least 20/40, with a combined horizontal field vision of 140 degrees.
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