Massachusetts Elderly Drivers Involved in Motor Vehicle Accidents Ignite Debate Regarding New Licensing Requirements

A large number of motor vehicle accidents involving elderly drivers has prompted the Transportation Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature to enact a bill that would impose driving tests on people over 85 years of age. Currently, Massachusetts only mandates a vision test every ten years.  However, a group of lawmakers is trying to enact tougher regulations on the elderly.

Several recent tragedies have drawn attention to safety issues related to elderly drivers. Concerns about reaction time and vision of the elderly have arisen from the wrongful death of 4-year old Diya Patel who was allegedly killed by an 86-year-old woman in Canton earlier this month.  Similar stories this year alone accuse elderly drivers of crashing into a Wal-Mart, a group of cyclists at UMASS, and even a Vietnam Memorial in Plymouth.  Furthermore, an 84-year-old woman remains in critical condition after an 86-year-old man allegedly hit her while she was crossing the street near downtown Melrose yesterday.

According to an article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) and Sen. Brian Joyce (D-Milton) want to enact a law similar to those in nearly 30 other states which mandate road tests alongside the vision test every five years for drivers over 85. This would override the current system, where drivers take a simple vision test every ten years after their initial licensure.

Not surprisingly, the issue is a sensitive one for many who say that regulating senior driving and treating them more like adolescents is demeaning and insulting. Even some suspects, such as 85-year-old Dominick Perry who stands accused of pinning a young boy against another car in a parking lot complain that “age discrimination” is the sole reason for the revocation of his license.  A story in The Boston Globe tells of a former race-car driver who took a long and difficult mock test similar to the road test which would be required of someone his age under the new law.  However, the anecdotal evidence from the elderly about the tedious nature of the test doesn’t outweigh the substantial evidence which links many elderly people to acts of negligent driving.

More Information

Lawmakers Hear Call for More Legislation Regarding Elderly Drivers – Boston Globe July 1, 2009.
Legislators Discuss Proposed Elderly Driving Bill Tomorrow – Lawrence Eagle Tribune – June 29, 2009.
Tested for the Road – Hospital Test Gauges Older Drivers’ Capability. – Boston Globe July 1, 2009.
Registry Revokes License of Driver, 86, in Melrose Accident. – Boston Globe June 29, 2009.
Passenger Dies in Elderly Driving Case – Boston Herald July 1, 2009.
Driver Charges Elderly Bias – Boston Herald July 2, 2009.
Malden Man Involved in Fatal Wreck Has Recent Road Woes – Boston Herald July 2, 2009.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident<

The attorneys at Breakstone, White and Gluck have a proven record in dealing with elderly drivers envolved in cases of wrongful death and car accidents. Recently, Ronald E. Gluck  obtained a significant recovery for a 33 year old school teacher and avid sports enthusiast who was struck by an elderly woman in a parking lot.  If you or anyone you know has suffered injury  as the result of an elderly driver or any motor vehicle accident, please visit or call 617-723-7676.  Experience Matters.