(WJBK) - There are 1.4 million drivers over the age of 65 on state roadways, which is up 29 percent over the last ten years.
And when it comes to crashes and highway deaths, 9 percent of the accidents and 15 percent of the fatalities involve those over 65. These drivers have special problems, with failing to yield and tailgating, and for all you others out there, most of those mishaps occur between noon and 6 p.m. -- and not at night as you might expect.
The Michigan Secretary of Sate's office is aware of the senior citizen driving challenges. Hence the release last week of the new website designed as a self-help tool for those drivers, their families, their doctors and their local cop.
"For that age group maintaining their independence rests clearly on their ability to drive. We understand this and we're committed to keeping all drivers licenses for as long as it is safe for them to be behind the wheel. The website will really help," explains Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
If you go to www.michigan.gov/agingdriver you'll find a handy dandy check list to gauge your fitness to get into traffic.
There are 25 boxes to check: I get lost while driving. Other drivers often honk at me. I have had some near misses lately. Left-hand turns make me nervous and people no longer accept rides from me.
Apparently if you check enough boxes, SOS Johnson is hoping that either the driver or somebody will suggest you stop driving. Note this is all voluntary and the state is not mandating everyone take the test. Sort of driving on the honor system.
But what about those seniors who check the boxes but won't cough up the license?
No one can tell how often this happens, but it's a good bet that some family members have had some heated debates with mom and or dad about this.
There's another angle to this story that Ms. Johnson left out of her presentation to the media.
Michigan has a mail in system for renewing your license. Let's say an 80-year-old goes to a local branch office, takes the eye test and the clerk gets a chance to evaluate his or her state of health.
Find and dandy.
However for the next eight years, that same driver does not have to appear in person. All he or she needs is a stamp on an envelope and the renewal is automatic.
Now before everyone screams discrimination, some have suggested that during that eight year time frame, the health of the driver and his or her abilities could change.
Asked if she was comfortable with this situation, Ms. Johnson says, "I think it's worked really well."
Note that previous SOS's have been asked about this eight year time frame, and Candice Miller suggested to do otherwise would be age discrimination. (Yet no one complained about that when first year drivers were hit with a myriad of hoops to jump through before they get a license.)
Maybe it's because young drivers don't vote and so there is little risk they'll vote against the Secretary of State. However, seniors do vote.
Not accusing. Just askin'.