It's no mystery that our aging bodies won't always perform as well as they do/did in their prime. Reflexes won't always be as snappy, eyesight will blur, and hearing will gradually diminish. Good, safe driving depends on constantly alert senses, quick reactions and steady muscle control. While plenty of 80 or older drivers do quite well behind the wheel of a car, others don't. Is this a good enough reason to ban them all from driving? Members of some of Italy's transportation organizations think so.

The country is near the top of Europe's list for automotive related death tolls, and authorities are considering a change to the licensing laws to counteract the effect of elderly drivers on this figure. They have estimated that 30% of accidents result from drivers being distracted, and argue that older drivers are more vulnerable in this area. Sandro Salvati, a member of the Road Safety Association in Italy points out: 'Cars of today have a lot of additional extras and gadgets which can be rather distracting if you are at the wheel.' Additionally, he says: 'Looking at how fit and capable elderly people are while at the wheel is something that should be seriously considered.'

Italian law currently requires drivers up to the age of 50 to renew their licenses every 10 years. After that, the renewal frequency drops to 5 years, and again down to 3 years after age 70. The license ban would affect all drivers above the age of 80. At that point, they would lose their eligibility to drive, regardless of their physical conditions.

In-vehicle distractions can certainly be very dangerous, but I don't get the impression that most 80+ drivers are as interested in playing with a nav screen or sending text messages while they drive as teens or middle-aged drivers are. Compared to the number of drivers under, let's say 50 years of age, what percentage of drivers are over 80? I can't be that many can it? I wonder how much safer the roadways would really be with less "old" drivers. Why not focus on changing the law to require more frequent written and road tests? Why not make the road tests more difficult, if they really want to ensure that only the most alert, capable drivers make it to the streets of Italy? The license ban sounds a bit like discrimination, and it probably won't sit will with lots of Italians, young and old, if it's passed.

[Daily Mail]