As every adult in the US knows, learning to drive has long been an adolescent rite of passage. Even today, obtaining a license as soon as possible after reaching the age of 16 is the goal that, quite literally, drives many youthful dreams. I remember counting down the years when I was 10 years old, and driving today is still something I mostly enjoy.
For some adults, however, decades go by and they never pursue a driver’s license. Is that person possibly you?
Hey, maybe you lived in a place like NYC or another big city and never needed a car. Understandable!
Maybe you always had someone to drive you and never really had the need to get a license. Totally get it!
Maybe driving scares the crap out of you. It should, driving is undisputedly the most dangerous thing we do on a regular basis!
Perhaps you’ve been driving without a license and are afraid of getting caught? Hey, I don’t judge, but I will encourage you to get that license!
Whatever the reason may be, many older individuals wonder if they are too old to start driving or to go through driver’s ed. I’ve seen people as young as their mid 20’s thinking they are too old, and people in their 80’s wondering if they should finally get a license.
So, are you too old to start driving? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. But let’s get into some more detail.
Learning To Drive Is Faster & Easier As An Adult
Older drivers wishing to obtain a driver’s license usually have far less stringent requirements than teen drivers. In some places, a special online adult driver’s ed course, usually able to be taken online, is required. These driver’s ed courses are usually quick and can be completed in one day. Usually, no behind-the-wheel driving instruction is required or necessary.
In many states, no course is required at all. You just show up to the DMV, take a written and driving test, and as long as you pass you get a license that same day.
Older Drivers Are NOT More Dangerous Drivers
There seems to be a belief that older drivers are more dangerous on the roadways. This just isn’t true. According to The AAA Foundation, “The crash rate of drivers ages 16-17 years was nearly double that of drivers ages 18-19 and approximately 4.5 times that of drivers ages 30-39, 40-49, and 50-59. Drivers ages 60-69 had the lowest crash rate. Crash rates began to increase beyond age 70; however, drivers ages 70-79 had crash rates similar to or lower than those of drivers ages 30-59, and drivers age 80 and older had crash rate higher than those of drivers ages 30-79 but lower than those of drivers younger than age 30.”
So, as you can see, even driver’s over 80 years old are typically safer than drivers under 30. Knowing this, you can’t use safety as an excuse. Being an older driver does not make you an unsafe driver, even if you’re over the age of 80.
Of course, as we age, more and more medical conditions become likely. Before driving, it makes sense to talk to a doctor just to be sure you are medically fit to be driving.
You Are Not Alone – Plenty Of People Start Driving Late In Life
Go visit any busy licensing or driving test center. Amid the sea of apprehensive, springtide faces will be found a smattering of riper, more mature looking candidates. Many of them will undoubtedly have learned to drive years previously, but simply never applied to take a test.
Others will have begun the whole endeavor from scratch, just a few weeks or months before. Others still will be taking their test again, having failed at the previous attempt.
Whatever their story, they share a common desire to win that credit card sized piece of plastic.
Obtaining Your Driver’s License At An Older Age Will Show You The Freedom You’ve Been Missing
Learning to drive is about freedom. Being able to go where you want, when you want, for whatever reason you want, and without having to rely on someone else is such a freeing thing. We often take for granted the type of freedom cars give us in our daily lives. Some people wonder if learning to drive at an older age is really worth it. While an argument could be made either way, I really don’t think there’s much of a downside to it! Go get that license already.
Even if you’ve already been driving without a license, getting one will take away that anxiety you always feel when you see a police car. Getting pulled over is never fun, but at least if you do get pulled over, you know your car isn’t getting impounded along with a pricey ticket and court appearance. Having a license and being properly insured really is an anxiety reliever.
Learning To Drive As An Adult Is Still Important & Serious Stuff
Learning to drive is a serious business. It involves the proper use of basic motor skills, knowledge of the rules of the road, and what would be described in military aviation parlance as “situational awareness”.
Put into automotive terms, the latter describes the need to be constantly aware of the fluidity of the traffic around you, which at times can seem to converge from all directions. Even a cursory glance at the modern US road system reveals a sort of organized mayhem, barely corralled by tactically deployed sets of traffic lights and multi-shaped road signs. Much the same could be said of the roads of any industrialized country.
Not surprisingly, assimilation of the required knowledge and development of the necessary motor skills is, it is generally assumed, easiest for the young. However, the general consensus among most experts is that more mature learners, with their greater life experience, make the most able pupils. The reasons for this are unclear, but it may be in large measure to due to the greater patience and measured approach to learning that maturity confers.
The point being, just because the requirements to get a driver’s license as an older adult are pretty lax, don’t skip out on taking some driving lessons or taking an online driver’s ed course voluntarily. Take learning to drive seriously for your sake and the sake of all motorists you’ll be sharing the road with.
New Technology Is Making It Easier For Older People To Drive
Many would probably agree, particularly when consideration is taken of the number of relatively recent innovations in car technology that should make a return, or introduction, to driving for an older person a much less daunting prospect than it might have been in decades past. Although traffic on US roads has increased by more than a quarter in the last twenty years, this has been ameliorated to some extent by the introduction of in-car systems.
For example, the reversing cameras increasingly fitted to new models of car greatly simplify rearward maneuvering, and satellite navigation systems means it is now possible to navigate to an unfamiliar, distant location to within an accuracy of yards, using an easily operated graphical interface on the car’s dashboard. Some car dials will tell you how far you can travel on the petrol remaining, or when to shift gear. There are eco-friendly petrol/electric hybrid cars, and even cars that will semi-autonomously reverse-park themselves! This Aladdin’s Cave of driver-assist technologies can only grow more abundant as time progresses.
Acquiring the skills to drive to a test passing standard is probably the hardest part of any individual’s driving career. The empirical evidence suggests, however, that age has little bearing on the process, and may even slightly increase your chances of success. So, whatever your age, if the desire remains and life circumstances permit it, there is really no reason not to pick up the ‘phone and call your local driving school.