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Seniors OK with tougher road test

LYNN – Peg Skomurski still drives at the age of 83, but some of her friends may have to garage their cars and toss their keys on the counter if Gov. Deval Patrick has his way.Patrick last week said he will consider asking the state Legislature to make age-specific driving tests mandatory for older drivers who want to keep their licenses.?Public safety has to come first,” the governor said during a radio interview in the wake of reports that an 86-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle and struck an elementary school student Tuesday.State Sen. Brian Joyce has proposed requiring vision and road tests for drivers 85 and older. Skomurski thinks her peers should be tested well before that age for failing vision and reflexes.?If you can?t pass the test you shouldn?t be driving,” she said.Dorothy Davis, 84, has a driver?s license but saves money by staying off the road. She said a lot of her friends are good drivers until they are required to react quickly to changes in road conditions or traffic.?They are apt to panic if they get in a tough spot,” she said.Two accidents involving elderly drivers last fall killed two people and injured others. Rich Smith, 61, drove tractor trailer trucks for years and thinks hearing tests as well as vision and reflex examinations are important for all drivers, especially older ones.Tom Miller said he is willing to take a vision and hearing test in five years when he turns 70.?I think it?s important. You hear about people going through windows and hitting the accelerator when they meant to hit the brake.”The American Association of Retired Persons opposes Joyce?s proposal and says stricter driver testing should apply to motorists of all ages. Joyce contends making tests stricter for drivers of every age is cost prohibitive.Davis said placing restrictions on drivers who cannot pass tougher tests is one way to send them a message that their days behind the wheel may be numbered.?Seniors are often the last ones to know if they are losing it,” she said.

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