East Texans discuss Baby Boomers behind the wheel

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Research shows the number of drivers over the age of 70 is growing, and older drivers seem to be keeping their licenses and driving longer.

At 16 you can get on the road, but when do you need to get off?

"I'm 82 years old and I still drive," said Buck Faussett. "I drive anywhere I want to."

"I think that there should be an age limit," said Christopher Palmer.

"I have a grandparent, but she doesn't drive, thank goodness because they don't react fast enough," said Miracle Freeman.

There's no law in Texas that determines what age you have to turn in your keys.

Bertie Birdwell just got her license renewed at 86 years old.

"I'm going to drive as long as I can," said Birdwell. "I don't have any problems. My eyesight is still good."

With Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Greg Sanches said he expects to see more elderly drivers.

"One of the biggest factors for older drivers is failure to yield right of way," said Sanches.

He said if you notice your skills behind the wheel are starting to deteriorate, try modifying your driving habits.

"There's a lot of older drivers that they know they are becoming maybe a danger...and they do something about it, whether they pick to drive during the daytime or get somebody else to help them drive at other times when maybe it's raining or the weather is bad," Sanches explained.

"When I feel like I shouldn't be driving, I'll get off the road because I don't want to endanger anyone else," said Birdwell.

Statistics actually show young drivers are more of a hazard.

"When you look at stats, 20 years of age is probably the most dangerous age as far as getting killed in an accident or causing wrecks," Sanches said.

"Well, there's some of them that at 16 shouldn't be driving,"said Birdwell.

However, how do you tell your aging relative they need to give up part of their independence?

"I think that once you kind of enlighten them that not only are they putting themselves in danger, but perhaps others around them," said Roger Sanders.

Sanches said for elderly drivers, knowing their limits is key.

At 79 years old, drivers cannot renew their license online or by mail, they have to go to the DPS office in person. At the age of 85, drivers have to renew their license every two years.

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