Deadly crash prompting calls for new regulations for senior drivers

Organizations work to educate older drivers
Posted at 7:16 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 23:10:42-04

DENVER, Colo. -- A deadly crash is prompting calls for tougher rules and regulations for elderly drivers in Colorado.

When Chris Spanos heard aboutthe 81-year-old driver charged for the crash that claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy, it sounded all too familiar.

"It was terrible," said Spanos. "We have got to do something to stop this."

Three years ago, Spanos said, his father was riding his motorcycle in Douglas County when an 84-year-old woman ran a stop sign and hit his father's bike head on.

Spanos' father died in the hospital nine days later.

"The driver who hit my dad is still driving — she’s now 87. She shouldn’t have been driving in the first place. But it happens every day," said Spanos, who is fighting for stricter laws for elderly drivers.

"People who are over a certain age should be compelled to take a driving test," he said.

Colorado requires drivers over 65 to get a renewal every five years, but they only have to show up in-person every other renewal.

They are also required to take, or submit, a proof of a vision test.

Other states, however, have more stringent regulations, including New Hampshire and Illinois, which require road tests for drivers 75 and older.

To see a state-by-state list of mature driving laws, click here.

Wave Dreher, a spokeswoman for AAA Colorado, said studies have shown requiring elderly drivers to physically come in to renew their license has been most effective in keeping unsafe drivers off the road.

"We know that the population in Colorado is aging, and we need to be talking about it as a state," said Dreher, who said road tests would create a backlog on a notoriously slow system. "That creates a lot more demand on our DMV offices and are we prepared to have that demand?"

Dreher said AAA's research shows elderly drivers support stricter regulations, but don't want it just tied to a certain age.

Meanwhile, at Evergreen Fire Rescue,Drive Smart is training technicians for the Car Fit program, helping elderly drivers personally fit their cars.

"It is empowering people to be more comfortable in the car they’re driving in, and also a way to passively educate in some of the laws that are on the road,and also to empower with the responsibility of knowing what their limitations are," said Jackie Mohr, the executive director of Drive Smart.

Mohr said they also provide information about modifications and resources to help people drive safely for a longer period of time.

"I had no idea that you could get rid of all of your blind spots by adjusting your three mirrors," said Mohr. "That’s such a simple fix to help somebody who has limited range of motion."

To find out where you can get a personalized CarFit, click here.

For more resources about Senior Driving and tips on talking to loved ones, click here.