Putting the Brakes on Some Elderly Drivers?

By: Pachatta Pope Email
By: Pachatta Pope Email

Being able to drive is something most look forward to as they growing up. But now, a bill being looked over by Texas lawmakers may move seasoned drivers to the passenger side seat after a vision test.

Tom Wilkinson is the executive director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments that oversees the Area Agency on Aging. He says the bill is the state's way of trying to further increase safety on roads.

"Everyone knows as you age your reflexes and vision become less responsive, and so checking that out is probably a good idea," Wilkinson said.

House Bill 84 requires that drivers age 90 and older renew their license every two years instead of six. They also would not be able to renew their license electronically or through the mail, and they would have to pass a driving test along with a vision test.

Last spring, Katherine Bolka, 17, of Dallas died after her car was struck by driver who ran a stop light that was red for almost a minute. The driver was 90 years old.

"It is the responsibility of the state of Texas to ensure everyone's safety on the highways to the best of their ability," Wilkinson said. "So adding some restrictions to 90-year-olds, I do not think is overly burdensome."

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there are close to 42,000 Texas drivers on the roadways that are 90 and older. Even though Wilkinson thinks all drivers could benefit from the bill, he says the state should be careful not to pick out other physical limitations.

"It would not be appropriate though to have physical requirements other than the visual," Wilkinson said.

Different versions of the bill passed in the House and Senate. If a consensus is reached, that version will then be sent to Governor Perry for signing.

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