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Residents of Massachusetts can freely enjoy a driver’s license at an early age. A prospective driver can apply for a permit at the age of fifteen, and then receive their license a year later. However, after years of driving, what happens when that same resident reaches sixty-five or older? According to Massachusetts State law, anyone is allowed to keep their license as old as seventy-five and older (Repa). As of late, senior citizens have been involved in serious vehicular accidents, causing a split in elderly driver supporters. Elderly drivers may have issues keeping their eyes on the road due to poor vision or other afflictions that may come with age. Many individuals in Massachusetts do not want senior citizens to have their licenses taken away at an earlier age even if they do not show signs of ill health.
Massachusetts residents in favor of older residents keeping their licenses insist that elderly drivers must simply overcome what is assumed of their age, so that their abilities speak for themselves. They feel that if age is brought up as a reason for someone losing their license, age discrimination comes into play. In car safety expert Kathleen Doheny’s 2015 article, “Assessing Elderly Drivers: Ability Means More than Age”, she emphasize that:
Experts know, for instance, which age-related changes most compromise driving, and what can be done to compensate for them. A variety of driving evaluations-in car and out—are available online and from specialists. Some states even step in to monitor older drivers, reducing the time between license renewals. (Doheny)
Doheny refers that with elderly drivers, there are steps taken to reduce driving difficulty. For example, more classes, evaluations and the like are given to the driver in order for them to keep their license. Massachusetts residents who feel that keeping a driver’s license as an elderly person, that having your license taken away should be a last ditch effort and not an automatic occurrence at a certain age. This argument also stipulates that when deciding when an elderly person should stop driving, one must consider undetected health problems of the individual, most often not due to their age (Doheny).
State residents can stand behind the notion that no one should have their driving licenses taken away strictly due to their age. Due to much research, anyone can find that it is inevitable to take a classic independence, such as driving, away from someone with years of enjoying that freedom. That argument is careful to take into consideration realistic expectations of everyday drivers, regardless of age. This may include basic health concerns, such as being able to see with or without glasses, or getting regular physicals from their doctor (Repa).
Moreover, another position in this critical debate believe that senior citizens should in fact have stricter laws regarding their driver’s licenses. There should be an age limit on a Massachusetts resident keeping their license. When someone reaches ages sixty-five or older they should be given routine examinations in concurrence with their driving habits. If not, their license should be taken away in concern for their safety and the safety of others. According to AARP politics writer Jean M. Lang’s article “New Law will Affect Older Drivers”, she concludes that, “If the registry receives a recommendation from a health care provider or law enforcement official, the driver in question has 10 days to surrender the license or request a hearing, according to Steve Evans, director of medical affairs for the registry” (Lang). This means, due to recent laws, it is a requirement for an elderly driver to have their license taken away at a certain age as a request from their health care provider. Lang also found that with the legalization of this law, and many other stricter laws regarding elderly drivers, the amount of crashes in Massachusetts has gone down at ninety-five percent (Lang).
Many Massachusetts citizens realize that driving safety laws are in place for a reason. They also understand that with older age comes different sets of experiences regarding frequent drivers. However, proponents and opponents of this issue can both agree that freedom and safety must be kept in mind. Massachusetts citizens, whether mature or just shy of seventeen years old, enjoy the freedom of driving. Residents have the ability to drive to school, home, work and anywhere else. What they all can also agree on involving this subject, is having the basic right to safety. The basic right to safety comes into when someone is driving alongside another driver, pedestrians or even a uniformed traffic police go about their daily lives in public. They expect those around them, such as drivers, to follow the laws of the road or the upkeep of their licenses.
After much deliberation from either side of the argument, a few solutions can be agreed upon. Residents of Massachusetts want the freedom to drive anywhere they want to, even in mature citizen’s age safety precautions must also be kept in mind. Furthermore, a more permanent solution of elderly drivers keeping their licenses is to continue following proper protocols. This means elderly drivers must surrender some of their driving freedoms, to unselfishly allow others around them to experience safety. Unfortunately, many elderly citizens in Massachusetts want to continue driving and have difficulty accepting that realization. When that situation occurs, the elderly must be spoken to respectfully about the new laws and concerns their loved one may have about their driving abilities. With these solutions elderly drivers can keep their freedom of driving and safety in Massachusetts.
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