Extended License Renewal Dangers? - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Extended License Renewal Dangers?

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A recent study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shows nationwide accidents involving seniors are on the decline. One reason is because some states have shortened renewal procedures for seniors. The state of Mississippi has done just the opposite by extending their renewal time.

In recent weeks, senior drivers have made headlines for accidents they were responsible for. The first ended the life of 10-year-old Allen Lutrick from Richland. Hit by 82-year-old Raymond Watts, who passed a bus that had it's lights flashing.

Then 87-year-old Sammy Hunter hit two girls boarding a bus on Highway 80, east of Forest. Hunter was also charged with failure to yield to a school bus.

Then earlier this week, a 91-year-old woman crashed her car into the Montfort Jones Hospital in Kosciusko. She was the only one hurt with just bruises. All this in a state that has recently extended the drivers license renewal process from 4 to 8 years.

Representative Rita Martinson said, "I'm getting older myself I think our reaction as we grow older sometimes is not as snappy as we would like."  

Martinson introduced a bill last year, hoping to require vision tests for all drivers at the renewal time. Without enough support the bill failed. Right now there's no testing of any kind for renewals at any age.

"Maybe later we need to have a reaction test in someway I think the vision screening would certainly help us start to look at the situation it will save some lives and I think it will prevent accidents," said Martinson, who feels any law tied to an age would cause backlash, from seniors who feel their independence was being taken away.

 Several states are taking steps to ensure all senior drivers, are safe drivers. According to a survey by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, six states have vision tests. There are 19 that have shortened the renewal time for drivers of a certain age. The District of Columbia has a vision and reaction test, and they require a note from a physician for older drivers.  Illinois has a road test for drivers over 75 years of age.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says they'll continue to monitor how many seniors get the eight year renewals here, and will change the law if necessary.  

Jon Kalahar, a spokesperson for the M.D.P.S. said, "It's something we're gonna look at it's something we can tinker with we can go back to the legislature and say maybe we need to cut it off at a certain age."

Mississippi Safety Services Defensive Driving Instructor Kay Brodbeck said, "We don't have enough retaking of the test, already I hate to see that eight years but that's what's been done."

For vision tips for senior drivers, click the link below.

http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/transportation/info-05-2010/Ten_Vision_Safety_Tips.html

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