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Elderly Drivers: When should the keys be taken away?

September 25, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Attorneys Kevin Seiferheld and Steven Gursten weigh in on Fox 2 News

Michigan elderly driving law

The issue of when it’s time to take away the keys away from elderly drivers is in the news again, this time after a Michigan State trooper was allegedly hit and killed by an elderly driver. It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. There are ways, however, to get ahead of this growing problem – one which will only get worse as baby boomers continue to age.

That was the message Michigan Auto Law trial attorney Kevin Seiferheld stressed as a featured guest last weekend on Fox 2’s Let it Rip, hosted by Charlie Langton. The news show came on the heels of a very unfortunate crash, in which a Michigan State trooper was hit and dragged nearly four miles by an elderly driver.

According to clickondetroit.com, 38-year-old trooper Chad Wolf was on his motorcycle when he was hit on north Dixie Highway and I-75 in Springfield Township by a 72-year old man towing a trailer with his car. Wolf later died in the hospital.

The Let it Rip hosts asked Kevin, should older drivers be required to pass reasonable additional tests and screenings before getting behind the wheel?

Kevin’s answer was an unequivocal “yes:”

“[At a reasonable age] We want to test them, not take away the keys. We also want to make it mandatory for doctors to report the (medical) problems (to the Secretary of State).”

The problem is, the law is applied to older people the same as it’s applied to everyone else. For elderly people we need to go further, with mental status, visual acuity tests and maybe a road test. And if they’re doing fine… then we don’t take away the keys.”

Kevin explained the laws that apply to elderly driving in Michigan. In summary, you can get a license re-examination to determine if an elderly driver is still fit to drive, but only if that driver has killed someone, caused three car accidents in two years, or accrued 12 or more points on their license in two years. This focuses on getting the elderly driver off the road after a crash happens. The form is called the OC-88 Request for Driver Re-Examination form. This is the same law that applies to all drivers in Michigan, regardless of age.

In addition, there’s a law that allows — not requires — doctors to alert the Secretary of State if they believe a patient has a medical condition that makes him or her unsafe to drive.

My own appearance on Let it Rip addressing the issue of elderly driving followed the tragic death of 88-year-old Lorriane McKaig of Livonia, who was driving to her favorite restaurant, but got confused due to a detour, and was finally found unresponsive all the way on Detroit’s east side in the frigid temperatures.

As Kevin said, “There’s more and more elderly people out there… The problem is people don’t always admit to themselves when they don’t have it like they used to.”

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