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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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(IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit, scientific, educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses, deaths, injuries and property damage-from motor vehicle crashes.

1) Do special regulations for driver’s license renewal among older drivers affect crash rates?
Regulations requiring in-person renewal and requiring vision testing in states where in-person renewal is not required are the only policies that are associated with lower fatality rates among older drivers, and only among drivers ages 85 and older.

For drivers 55 and older, fatality rates per licensed driver are not lower in states with laws requiring road testing, knowledge testing or shortened renewal periods for older drivers than in states without such requirements. Similarly, an Australian study found that drivers 80 and older in jurisdictions with age-based mandatory medical and/or road tests did not have lower fatal and serious injury crash involvement rates per capita or per licensed driver compared with drivers in a jurisdiction without age-based mandatory testing. Some jurisdictions with mandatory age-based testing had significantly higher fatal and serious injury crash rates than the jurisdiction without age-based testing.

2) Can screening tests identify drivers with an elevated crash risk?
The goal of driver screening is to identify people at high risk of crash involvement without falsely identifying other drivers who are not at high risk. So far, there are no tests that accomplish this goal with sufficient accuracy.

A few states have studied tiered screening tests. California developed and pilot-tested a three-tier assessment for driver’s license renewal for applicants of all ages. 31, 32 The first two tiers consisted of nondriving assessment tools (e.g., driving knowledge test, cognitive screening, vision tests, observation of obvious physical limitations). Most applicants failing one or more of the screening tests in the first two tiers received an educational intervention. Additionally, applicants failing both tiers had to pass an on-road driving test to renew their licenses.

There was no evidence of a reduction in crash risk subsequent to participation in the pilot and only weak evidence of a reduction in subsequent at-fault injury and fatal crashes