In January 2015, the state of Virginia implemented a new law which requires drivers age 75 and over to renew their license in person every five years. This is change to their previous law, which required drivers 80 and older to renew in person every 8 years. Virginia is one of 20 states requiring seniors to renew their licenses more frequently than other drivers. The required age for additional testing begins as early as age 59 in Georgia (every 5 years, with a vision test required for those age 64 and older), and as late as age 85 in Texas (every 2 years).
If you live in one of these 20 states, you may feel that you are being stereotyped as a poor driver based on your age. However, these laws exist for your own safety. As you age, your body is going through subtle changes, some moving so slowly you don’t even realize they are happening until they present a major problem. Therefore, it is important to watch for signs that may require medical intervention in order for you to continue driving safely.
- If you find yourself suddenly making wrong turns or missing exits on drives you take often and know well, you may be developing a memory issue and should see your doctor.
- If you discover your hearing isn’t as strong as it used to be, you should visit your doctor for a hearing exam. Certain levels of hearing loss can prevent you from picking up on important traffic sounds, such as horns and sirens.
- If you have found that you need to drive closer to street signs in order to read them, experienced any issues with your peripheral vision, or found that your eyes are becoming more sensitive to the headlights on other cars, an eye exam is in order immediately.
- If you are experiencing any neck or shoulder pain due to driving, have found yourself getting more frustrated behind the wheel than usual, or have experienced any close call that has left you feeling like your reaction time is not what it used to be, it is best to consult with a doctor.
Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to change your driving practices as you get older. If driving at night or in certain types of weather is uncomfortable for you, do not put yourself in those situations. Become familiar with alternate transportation options in your area.