Re-Testing Laws For Elderly Drivers? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/11/04-Tyler

Re-Testing Laws For Elderly Drivers?

Questions over the stability of elderly drivers arose after Monday night's fatal accident in Bullard.

79-year-old Virgil Hall was driving in the wrong direction, when his van slammed into another vehicle.  In all, seven people were killed in the crash. Authorities are still investigating what caused Hall to drive on the wrong side of the road. Age has not been pinpointed as a factor, but KLTV wanted to know if authorities would re-examine the issue after a string of accidents involving the elderly in East Texas.

According to a study by AAA, 25 percent of people over the age of 65 are likely to be in a car crash. The number jumps to 50 percent for people over the age of 85.

"We have seen numerous cases where elderly individuals are involved in accidents and it continues to be a repeat problem," said Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle. "If it becomes a condition of age and that person is having, or reported a number of tickets, or there's some reason that would require that then I think it may be a good law for us to re-test.

Currently 22 states have laws regulating elderly drivers. Many require re-testing for elderly drivers to renew their licenses.  The state of Texas has no re-testing law.

"I think we should consider some form of re-testing, but I wouldn't target the elderly," said State Senator Kevin Eltife.

Eltife said he doesn't see any harm in re-testing for all drivers. "I think the legislator should really consider it, I really do," he said. "I use myself as an example. It's been over 20 years since I took a driver's test so there are probably laws I'm not familiar with that pertain to driving or I need to be refreshed on."

Chief Swindle said older drivers on the road are something his department will have to deal with in the future, especially as Tyler becomes a retirement community.

"It's really a touchy situation I know, but our concern from the police department standpoint is safety of everybody."

State Representative Leo Berman said he would like to hold a series of discussions with elderly citizens in different East Texas communities, before deciding to support any state legislation regulating elderly drivers.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com

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