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Elderly Tennessee drivers may face tougher restrictions

Tennessee is one of the least restrictive states in the nation when it comes to elderly drivers. Some states have strict laws requiring drivers of a certain age to submit to medical testing before they are allowed behind the wheel. While Tennessee may not go that far, officials are looking to impose tougher restrictions on elderly drivers in the future.

As baby boomers age, there will be more elderly drivers on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 21.6 million drivers aged 70 and older in 2008, accounting for about 10 percent of all drivers. Some fear there will be increased instances of car accidents as drivers age.

According to the Tennessean, the AAA Foundation for Driver Safety estimates that one of every five drivers will be age 65 or older by the year 2030. State officials are said to be exploring new laws that could subject elderly drivers to additional testing.

The new laws could also make it easier for the state to take away licenses from older drivers upon the request of their family members. The Tennessee attorney general says the laws would not be discriminatory or unconstitutional as long as they "were rationally related to a legitimate state interest," the Tennessean says.

Still, it may be tough to convince older drivers that their rights are not being violated. Even those who should not be driving because of medical reasons, such as the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, are often resistant to giving up driving.

Many view giving up driving as giving up independence. A representative of the Meharry Consortium Geriatric Education Center says areas need more senior transport services, which are often offered by nonprofit or religious organizations.

It remains to be seen when such laws may go into effect.

Source: The Tennessean, "Older Tennessee drivers may encounter tougher laws," Brandon Gee, Jan. 17, 2012

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