Too Old to Drive? State Might Put Elderly to the Test

Meghan McRoberts


Nebraska state lawmakers may require cognitive testing for drivers 80-years-old and older before they can receive a renewed driver's license.

Officials with AARP say there are more than 60,000 drivers 80 and older in Nebraska. That number is expected to rise to nearly 130,000 by 2035.

A public hearing Tuesday afternoon detailed the proposal for lawmakers in an effort to make the roads as safe as possible.

Currently, elderly drivers are required to take a vision test. The cognitive test would also make sure they are alert enough, and healthy enough to take to the roadways.

80-year-old Alan Goodman says he was driving 50 miles a day to get to work, until 3 weeks ago when he retired. "I'm a great believer in personal freedom," said Goodman. "I can do what I want, how I want, when I want."

Though retired, he says he still plans on driving at least 50 miles a week to go to meetings and to shop. He says he always drives carefully. "I've only had one accident and that was when someone hit me," supported Goodman.

He says he's fine with being tested on his cognitive skills. He is opposed, however, to the state making the test.

"The doctor that takes care of that person is a better judge than any judge than any test that the state of Nebraska can come up with," said Goodman.

Jane Wilkinson is in her 70's, and says she doesn't mind being tested when she turns 80. "I want others to be safe around me and if that means I have to take a test at 80, then that's what it means," supported Wilkinson.

Wilkinson has already been tested by her doctor to make sure she's safe to drive. "It makes you feel better, you know it's okay, you passed. You passed the test and now it's okay."

Karen Keens had a stroke several years ago. She says she supports being tested as it gave her more confidence to get back on the roads. "I would hate to hurt somebody," said Kerns.

If someone failed the written cognitive test, they would be allowed to take a standard driving test.

AARP Nebraska released a statement, hoping more research will go into making transportation easier for the elderly, should it become harder to keep their license.

In a statement from Devorah Lanner, with AARP Nebraska, she stated, "AARP strongly opposes laws or regulations that require additional testing or screening solely on the basis of age."

AARP recommends research into other ways to identify unsafe drivers, while making sure those that are unsafe still have ways to get around their communities.