California has some of the toughest restrictions in the nation when it comes to the requirements of a certain age to continue driving legally. However, despite these restrictions some say the state could be doing more, much more, to reduce the incidents of traffic deaths caused by senior drivers.

On the other side of that coin, senior drivers, although they represent nearly 20 percent of all drivers on the road in the nation today, are repsonsible for a much smaller percentage of serious crashes. Crashes involving seniors tend to make the headlines more often, however, giving a false impression when it comes to the number of crashes they cause.

And experts say that despite what many believe, a persons age has nothing to do with whether or not they are safe drivers. Instead they point to a physical ailments, often caused by the natural aging process. These ailments are simple enough to predict and some say doctors should be making the call about whether or not a person is able to drive safely.

To address just this type of situation California recently tried a three-step screening process to detect drivers who might need a road test before getting their licenses renewed. Unfortunately, despite these restrictions the changes attempted in California did not reduce crashes. That caused researchers to pause and try a different approach to resolving the issue.

Meanwhile across the nation traffic safety experts are struggling to keep everyone who uses the roads and highways, regardless of their age, safer tomorrow than they were yesterday, or even today.

Some states introduce age requirements after high-profile accidents. Massachusetts now requires drivers to start renewing licenses in person at age 75, with proof of an eye exam. The change came after an 88-year-old driver struck and killed a 4-year-old crossing a suburban Boston street in 2009.

This summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a national guideline for older driver safety that, if finalized, would push states to become more consistent. Among the recommendations: Every state needs a program to improve older driver safety; doctors should be protected from lawsuits if they report a possibly unsafe driver; and driver’s licenses should be renewed in person after a certain age, tailored to each state’s crash data….
…In California, older drivers who fail a regular road test sometimes get a re-test on familiar neighborhood roads to qualify for a restricted license. State traffic researchers expect demand for that option to grow, and are preparing to study if that tailored testing really assures safety.