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Illinois seniors may no longer need road test for license renewal

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(The Center Square) – Behind-the-wheel road tests may be abolished for senior citizens looking to renew their license under legislation proposed this year.

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, introduced House Bill 4431 at the start of the 2024 legislative session, attacking what he said is an “onerous hurdle” the road test mandate presents for drivers ages 75 and older.

Keicher told The Center Square that National Safety Council statistics don’t support the need for a road test for seniors.

“When we look at the National Safety Council report, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes decreases as the age of the driver increases,” he said.

When it comes to the raw count of fatal incidents, seniors are involved in the fewest crashes, as they tend to avoid long-distance driving, limiting their runs to essentials like the grocery store and doctor’s visits. Other demographics alter the picture a bit, as Keicher explains,

“However, if you measure it by per 100,000 miles driven, seniors rank higher,” he said.

Keicher described the road test requirement as ageist, saying “I just think it’s highly discriminatory based on an age that you’ve reached and not your health or driver ability.”

If there is a senior with a particular medical condition warranting a license revocation, that’s something a doctor can report, he said.

Currently, his bill is paused for an amendment that will address bad drivers of all ages for more stringent renewal requirements, rather than focus on seniors.

“My amendment clarifies that those that have tickets or accidents are the ones that should be subjected to the higher threshold,” Keicher said. “If we can intercede at a young age on making sure that they’re driving safer, we should be better served altogether.”

Taking the focus off seniors is proving popular across party lines with both Republicans and Democrats named as bill co-sponsors. Bipartisan support generally means the bill has a greater likelihood of gaining the votes to become reality.