Local News

License-Renewal Bill Focuses on Older Drivers

Posted April 19, 2007 7:20 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2007 10:05 a.m. EDT

— There is legislation in the state House of Representatives to make senior citizens show they can still drive well enough to renew their licenses and to do that more often than current law requires.

Statistically, older drivers are not the most dangerous. Young drivers are considered a higher risk. However, teens really have to prove themselves to earn a license.

The bill that Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg introduced Thursday seeks to have seniors do the same.

"I think my bill is a prudent way to insure that those who travel the road at all ages are a little more safe then they are today," Killian said.

The bill would make 75-year-old drivers reapply for a license every two years instead of every five and 85-year-old drivers reapply every year, and it would require all drivers over 75 to take a road test.

Currently, license are issued for a period of 5 or 8 years depending on a driver's age. Drivers between the ages of 18 to 53 will be issued licenses for 8 years. Those who are 54 and older will be issued licenses for 5 years.

Charles King is 81 and had no problem letting WRAL's Mark Roberts hop in for a ride.

"If I wasn't a safe driver, I don't believe I'd want to drive," King said.

Of Killian's bill, he said, "Hopefully that will not pass."

Killian says research inspired the bill.

"What I found was quite startling," he said. "In fact, fatalities begin to increase dramatically at age 65 and increase exponentially as time passes." Research shows drivers 75 and older have higher rates of deadly wrecks than any other group of drivers, except teenagers.

The last time a bill to regulate older drivers came up, the North Carolina office of the AARP lobbied against it. Officials say they need some time to go over this latest measure, but they gave a good indication of where they're leaning this time around.

"It is a concern," said Bob Jackson, state AARP director. He said he worries about cost "first to the DMV, to hire additional staff. Also, will individuals be facing that renewal cost every year so a 75-year-old will they have to pay up every two years for that renewal or the 85-year-old every year?"

The bill is headed for the House Transportation Committee.