Illinois is the only state with age-based tests and seniors are not happy

Describing the policy as anywhere from “unfair” to “terrible,” numerous Illinois drivers are fired up about living in the only state requiring seniors to take road tests.

As of Thursday, more than 150 readers, mostly seniors, had emailed or called the Daily Herald with comments about last week’s column on the policy.

The law requires drivers aged 79 and 80 to take a road exam if their four-year license renewal is up. For drivers aged 81 to 86, it’s every two years, and for those 87 and older, it’s yearly.

The majority, about 79%, opposed the extra exams, describing it as age discrimination. However, nearly 12% called the rule an important safety measure.

Carole Konetzki of Streamwood asked: “Why should the seniors in Illinois be the only people who have to go for driving tests? I am 84 years old and I have had only one ticket in my life and that was 60 years ago.”

Her only accidents were: “I was rear-ended when I was sitting at a red light, and one time a car skidded on the ice as I was sitting still at a stop sign.”

Pat Balduf of Palatine thinks the requirement is “terrible.”

“Before I had to renew my license, I couldn’t sleep -- it caused me so much anxiety and does the same for all my senior friends,” he said. “Don’t take our independence away from us or cause us to move out of state. My Arizona and Wisconsin and Florida friends do not have to test.”

Retired Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. Bob Schenck wrote that “in all my years in law enforcement, I can’t remember any accident where a senior citizen was responsible.“

“One thing I notice regularly is that other drivers, mostly younger people, seem to be in a big hurry ... speeding, following too closely, lane changes without signaling, etc. Many drivers seem to be in a hurry and tailgate those of us who follow the laws. A few years ago, I was stopped at a red light on northbound Route 41 at Route 60 when I got rear-ended by a young girl.”

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias’ office studied crashes and found senior drivers are among the safest in the state.

But Streamwood’s Arthur Golub, 78, firmly believes older drivers should be tested more frequently.

“I spent 23 years driving a cab, based mostly in Arlington Heights, which has a lot of retirement homes, and thus senior drivers,” Golub said. “I saw hundreds of examples of older drivers who needed to quit. When my license comes up for renewal, I don’t mind being tested.”

And Fred Dryden of Huntley said, “I have no problem being required to take the road test in three more years. My health condition may change, and hopefully a DMV examiner would deny me a license if a lack of my cognitive skills was noticed.

“In today’s culture, personal inconveniences seem to go viral or are picked up by the media and magnified to the point that it is necessary to make a change. Throwing caution to the wind may be detrimental,” Dryden thinks.

Several seniors described trouble booking an exam.

“My 88-year-old husband has been trying to get an appointment for a road test for over two months,” Jackie Nelson of Hoffman Estates wrote.

“There are never any openings at the closest DMV offices (Schaumburg and Elgin). The only openings are in distant towns, even downstate. There is no logical reason for senior drivers to take a yearly road test. It was better before appointments were required. At least then we had a chance to get the test done.”

In September, Giannoulias switched to an appointment system for tests. After complaints surfaced, he opened additional offices in Addison, Bridgeview, Evanston and Westchester. Seniors who need assistance, can call (800) 252-8980 and press 2.

Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. Joyce Mason of Gurnee told the Herald she intends to reintroduce legislation in 2024 ending the senior road exam.

One more thing

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Chicago? CTA buses and trains are on Molson Coors. The company brings back its Miller Lite Free Rides program from 10 p.m. Dec. 31 to 4 a.m. Jan. 1.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.