When is it time for senior citizens to hang up the keys for good? Many people may be asking that again after a 100-year-old driver backed his car into a group of people Wednesday and hit eleven people, including nine kids outside of an elementary school in Los Angeles.
It's a complicated issue and authorities say age alone isn't a good indicator of driving skill. Recognizing a variety of factors is important because authorities say, in the next few decades, the number of elderly drivers on California's roads will quadruple.
"I've never had a wreck, never had a ticket, so I think that's pretty good," said 80-year-old driver Mary Morley.
"I lost confidence in my driving. I got scared to get on the 99 Freeway one day on the on ramp near Red Lion. I decided right then, that was the end of my driving career," said 78-year-old Joanne Teague, who gave up her license.
It's an issue the California Highway Patrol is paying close attention to. Authorities have stared educating elderly drivers with its "Age Well, Drive Smart" program, designed to help recognize potential driving deficiencies.
"Older drivers just don't want to hear, 'hey I should stop driving' because this is their independence, their freedom. They feel empowered to have their driver's license when they drive their cars," said Robert Rodriguez with the CHP.
In California, elderly drivers only have a few requirements. If they're over 70, they have to renew their driver's license in person. They may also be required to pass a driving test if they fail a vision exam or a police officer, physician, or family member has concerns.
"We're not here to stop driving, but rather we're here to tell them we want you to keep driving longer, but to drive safely," Rodriguez said.
In the next few decades, authorities say drivers over 65 are on track to become the nation's largest driving demographic. They will be mainly responsible to determine for themselves if they're capable of driving.
"That's why it's imperative we bring this program out and let these people know, you know what if you're going to continue to drive, we want you to do it safely," Rodriguez said.
There's a number of different tools available on-line to help elderly drivers evaluate themselves and their driving skills.
For more information, click here: http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/about/senior/senior_self_ess.html