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POLL: At What Age Should Your Driver's License Be Revoked?

Within the past week there have been two car crashes involving seniors over the age of 85 in Laguna Niguel. One was fatal, the other caused damage to City Hall, and the stats don't stop there.

Two car crashes involving drivers over the age of 85 in one week in Laguna Niguel and a

On Tuesday morning, an 87-year-old woman smashed into the back of the building after the woman's Chrysler was in a two-car crash with a 20-year-old man in a Saturn at the intersection of Alicia and Town Center Drive, according to Lt. Jim England of the O.C. Sheriff's Department.

"We don't know if she panicked or not, but somehow she ended up a slope and hit the wall behind s," he said. "She clipped the corner of the building, and caused some structural damage."

The woman was later taken to an area hospital for minor injuries. The other driver was unhurt, England said.

Public Works Director Dave Rogers said the damage "won't be cheap or easy to fix."

He estimated the cost of repairs would run $5,000 to $10,000.

On July 18, Clarice Jordan, 88 died at a local hospital after she was in a collision in Laguna Niguel an Orange County sheriff's lieutenant said. 

Jordan was involved in a four-vehicle collision at Crown Valley Parkway and Greenfield Drive, suffering a broken arm, about 12:20 p.m. and taken to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, where she was declared dead about 5:20 p.m., according to Orange County Sheriff's.

"I was one of the people caught in this traffic jam immediately after the accident happened and was trapped there for 35 minutes before any traffic could move," said Laguna Niguel resident Shirley Dickter. "Traffic was a nightmare. I didn't get upset until all the people started using the emergency lane to barge in front of whoever they possibly could."

According to California Highway Patrol these types of accidents are not isolated. It also offers a class for seniors called Age Well Drive Smart program for senior drivers. Here are some statistics for the cities of Laguna Niguel and Dana Point:

Collisions and Victims Where at Least One Driver at 75 years or older 

Cities: Dana Point and Laguna Niguel  2009 through 2010  19-JUL-12

Total Collisions Fatal Injury Property Damage Only Victims Killed Victims Injured Collision Year City Name 2009 126 0 22 104 0 37 Dana Point 75 0 8 67 0 14 Laguna Niguel 51 0 14 37 0 23 2010 94 0 21 73 0 32 Dana Point 54 0 8 46 0 10 Laguna Niguel 40 0 13 27 0 22 TOTALS 220 0 43 177 0 69 Total Collisions Fatal Injury PDO Victims Killed Victims Injured Collision Year City Name 2009 59 0 12 47 0 19 Dana Point 33 0 4 29 0 7 Laguna Niguel 26 0 8 18 0 12 2010 46 0 12 34 0 18 Dana Point 20 0 4 16 0 6 Laguna Niguel 26 0 8 18 0 12 TOTALS 105 0 24 81 0 37

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that there are more than 5.5 million drivers over the age of 55 in California. More than 2.5 million are 70 or older. 

The Department of Motor Vehicles does not take away your driver license when you reach a certain age. Your mental and/or physical condition or your inability to follow traffic laws and rules regardless of age determines whether your license is renewed, restricted, suspended, or revoked. All customers age 70 or older must renew their driver license in person at a DMV office.

At what age do you think a person's license should be revoked? Take our poll.

Shirley July 20, 2012 at 02:35 PM
The poll is difficult. Once again this a is up to DMV & family. I had understood a driver over 70 had to be tested every 2 years but maybe some else knows if that is true or not. If not the state lets a lot of people down.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 20, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The Department of Motor Vehicles does not take away your driver license when you reach a certain age. Your mental and/or physical condition or your inability to follow traffic laws and rules regardless of age determines whether your license is renewed, restricted, suspended, or revoked. All customers age 70 or older must renew their driver license in person at a DMV office.
Sarah Hersh July 20, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Debbie, do people over 70 renewing their licenses have to take a driving test or are they granted a renewed license just by showing up at the DMV? It would be safer for everyone if they were required to take a driving test just to ensure that they are able to drive safely. It can be really difficult to speak with a loved one who is older and not really able to drive safely anymore; nobody wants to be dependent on others for transportation, and our public transportation is not the best, unfortunately, but the safety of all people on the road is, I think, the number one priority.
Knych Keller July 20, 2012 at 07:53 PM
My Aunt, living in Chicago, is 87 and just had her license renewed. I can tell you for a fact, she should NOT be driving.
Shirley July 20, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I have a friend that just turned 70 & she had to go in for the written test. Don't know if you're ever required to dot he road test as long as you haven't had any citations or accidents. My question to Debbie was, how often do they have to do that writtten test. I do know law enforcemnt can take your license on the spot if you're the cause of an accident or they feel you really made a dumb mistake & you're required to re-test within 7 days.
Stephanie D. Winstead, Esq. July 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I work closely with a lot of elderly people and I feel that most of them are good drivers. Almost all of them are intelligent, active, and have excellent mental acuity. You need to worry when a person becomes noticeably more forgetful. Accidents happen when they feel lost, confused, or become disoriented while driving. Personally, I feel that there should be no set age when a person’s license is revoked. Ability to drive should be determined on a case by case basis and elderly people should take written and behind the wheel exams when renewing their driver’s license. It causes less stress on the family and helps maintain the elderly person’s dignity when their driver’s license is taken away by the DMV rather than by their child. To help put things into perspective, I would be interested in seeing the same graph for collisions involving people under the age of 25.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 21, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Sarah: I believe it is up to the DMV to decide. You might want to check with them. Someone I l know who is 70 had to take the written test recently because their license was about the expire. Others I know who are over 70 were able to renew by mail.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 21, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Kynch: Thanks for the info!
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 21, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Stephanie: great idea for a follow-up.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 21, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Shirley: I think you have to take the test only when your license needs renewal. It is best to check with DMV as there are some exceptions I believe.
Ed July 22, 2012 at 03:28 AM
There are plenty of under-70 drivers who also don't have the skills to safely drive or don't know the rules of the road. I'm for having periodic behind the wheel tests for all ages. No need to discriminate based on age.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) July 22, 2012 at 05:22 PM
@Ed: great points, thanks for the comments. We will be doing a follow-up with a different age bracket.
Kathi August 08, 2012 at 07:11 AM
My Dad had mild dementia but seemed to be doing ok still driving around town. But then one day I had driven his car & parked it differently in the garage (the way the wheel was turned) than he was used to. Rather than simply back up the way the wheel was turned, he tried to fight it & knocked the trash cans askew that were on the passenger side just inside the garage door. Later I noticed that he had also scraped the plastic side panel on my car which was parked in the driveway. This was right before his license was due to renew & I think he was just over 90. I was hoping he would fail the test. He was not required to take a driving test--only the written test. Took 3x to pass written but he passed finally. In addition, we had misplaced the pre-filled renewal form so he had to fill one out. I was dismayed that the DMV clerks were apparently not trained to pick up on signs of dementia by the way the form was filled out. He made a mistake on his SS#--I think he only had part of the # & there were a couple of other things that should have been red flags! So I think that is one thing that needs improvement--the DMV should train clerks about signs to watch for that might indicate that the driver should be required to take a driving test. In CA you can report someone anonymously. That triggered his dr having to report diagnosis of dementia & Alzheimers-tho he didn't really have Alzheimers. That did it & they pulled his lic.
Kathi August 08, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Probably a little over 5 years ago my Dad's license was up for renewal & he would have been just over 90 w mild dementia. He just had to take the written test & it took him 3x to pass! Plus he messed up on the renewal form but DMV clerks didn't even pick up on that. So maybe if they don't pass the written test the 1st time for renewal, maybe that should trigger requiring a driving test. I mean, how hard is that written test? If we have been driving for some time & just do a little review, it shouldn't be hard to pass. But you can anonymously (so your parent doesn't get mad at your & doesn't even know who reported them) report people if they should not be driving. Years ago my cousin had difficulty trying to report our mutual aunt who had Alzheimers I should not have been driving. They didn't seem interested until she got the social workers w her medical plan involved. It wasn't hard at all for me to call. If you click on the CHP link in the article & then click on resources it has info on reporting someone.
Kathi August 08, 2012 at 07:32 AM
One other related issue/resource that is listed on the link in the CHP resource link is that AARP has a Mature Driver Improvement course for those 50 or 55 & over & it should qualify the person for a discount on auto insurance. I have taken it several times now. it seems to be for the more mature who are starting to have a few issues, but a previous time I took it from Dan Levine who was excellent. I think I'm a pretty good driver, but I think we all sometimes overlook certain things--such as not looking over our shoulder when changing lanes & so not seeing someone in our blind spots. I've had people almost hit me who didn't look, but just used mirrors. Since taking that course I have been careful to look over my shoulder after checking the mirrors 1st & several times it has saved me from either hitting or cutting off another car. But it also has tips for those who are getting older--such things as making a series of right turns rather than 1 left turn. The Class is given at Norm Murray Sr Ctr in Mission Viejo, in Casta del Sol in MV & probably other places & is an 8 hour course--2 mornings. Very worth taking.

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