How the New Massachusetss Safe Driving Law Affects You or Your Elderly Loved One

The Safe Driving Law has officially become effective in Massachusetts as of Sept. 30, 2010.  Massachusetts now joins an increasingly growing number of states that ban texting while driving.  However, a major part of this bill is also targeted at elderly drivers who are over the age of 75.

On June 2, 2009, a 93-year-old driver hurt a mother and toddler in a stroller when he drove his car into a Danvers Wal-Mart. He stepped on the gas pedal because he thought he was stepping on the brake.  The next day, a 73-year-old Middleboro driver accidentally drove her minivan into a crowd of people attending a Vietnam War Memorial in Plymouth. As a result, eight people went to the hospital. Read this blog for more information.  In an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving elderly drivers, Massachusetts legislators passed the new Safe Driving Law.

The new Safe Driving Bill is eight pages long but can be reduced to a few major points affecting elderly drivers:

  • Drivers can no longer compose, send or read text messages while driving.
  • If you’re 75 years old or older, you must renew your drivers license in person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  • If you’re 75 years old or older, you have to take a vision test every five years when you renew your license.
  • A health care provider or police officer who feels an individual cannot mentally or physically operate a motor vehicle safely can request an evaluation of the person’s ability to possess a license.  Such a request, however, cannot be made solely based on a person’s age.

The law is also designed to remove problem drivers from the road and encourage people to drive more carefully by reducing the number of “surchargeable incidents” (anything that causes insurance premiums to rise, including at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, etc.).  A driver involved in three such incidents in a two year time span faces license suspension.

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