The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has announced its plans to road-test elderly drivers every three years after age 65, and every other year after age 70, every year after 75, and weekly at 80+. The road test is specially designed to address situations that are most challenging to aging drivers. The RMV released very few details about the planned closed course. The course may include, but is not limited to:
A simulated CVS parking lot will require the driver to park in the only empty parking space right at the front door, without going through it.
A requirement to drive on only one side of the road (theirs), and to obey posted speed limits. Points will be deducted for driving more than fifteen miles below the posted speed limits.
A simulated farmer’s market will require that the driver evade large crowds of people that are on sidewalks, which are right next to the road.
Distracting roadside signs including, but not limited to: billboard advertisements for “Matlock” reruns, early-bird dinner specials at local restaurants, and a new brand of toilet tissue.
A requirement that the driver back up in a straight line 20 feet; potential obstacles include trash barrels, mailboxes, and a simulated dog-walker.
A requirement for drivers to identify a school bus and a fire truck, and appropriate driving behaviors related to them.
Additionally, aging drivers will be ‘safety-sized’ for their vehicles. The state will no longer allow the disturbing “hats and knuckles” driving posture to continue to go unchecked. If a driver is unable to see or be seen behind the wheel, they will be required to purchase the appropriate seat enhancement to account for this deficiency. Proper height adjustments assist not only in enhancing the driver’s ability to actually see the world around them, but enables the automobile’s built-in safety features like air bags and passenger restraints to work more effectively. A number of companies are actively promoting new adult-size booster seats for the aging driver.
The RMV has not yet assessed the increased budgetary requirements to support the enhanced testing program, and has not yet laid out the fee structure for the more frequent testing.