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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
5:17 AM Mon, Jan. 21st

Extra testing would protect AZ drivers

More people need to think about actions as privileges instead of rights.

Voting is one that comes to mind immediately. Driving a car isn't far behind.

Most young people look forward to age 16, when a driver's license will fall into their hands. They look forward to the freedom their license will provide, the places they can go, the things they can do. Rarely does a teen dwell on the exceptional responsibility that license brings, to control a ton of metal and glass in close proximity to other large, moving objects. Many take it for granted, but driving well requires quick reflexes, experience, and the ability to anticipate the possible lapses of other drivers.

Some drivers may not have those skills. The young, of course, lack experience. People with certain disabilities lack the reflexes to quickly handle driving situations. Some people repeatedly take too many risks, either by driving impaired, distracted or uncontrolled. And older people may have physical or mental issues that prevent them from driving safely.

An Arizona House of Representatives bill would require drivers 75 and older to successfully complete a vision and road test every two years to keep their licenses, rather than the current five-year requirement.

The bill provides a solid system for determining which older drivers are no longer capable of the reflexes, physical control and judgment to drive safely. While many drivers 75 and older can drive perfectly well, others are a danger to themselves and other drivers. Extra tests would screen out those who should get off the road. While the Arizona Automobile Association and American Association of Retired Persons oppose the measure, they should support the bill, which protects their members' safety.

However, the state needs to go further and force other at-risk groups to test every two years. Beginning drivers and those with more than two at-fault accidents within a year or two also need more frequent driving skill tests. The payoff would be safer roads for the majority of drivers with reasonable experience, skills and judgment.

In the meantime, local motorists need to start focusing on their driving in the tri-city metropolis — because that is what the region has become.

Buckle up, turn down the audio equipment, remove the headphones and turn off the cell phones. Use your turn signals and stop driving like someone's going to hand you a trophy for finishing first.

Concentrate instead on finishing alive.