Tennesseans over the age 76 would be required to get a vision test prior to renewal of their driver’s licenses under legislation proposed by state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon.
Vison testing for older citizens seeking a license renewal has been proposed periodically in various forms during past legislative sessions, but was always defeated. Pody’s HB1423, recently pre-filed for consideration in the 2016 session that begins in January, sets a higher age standard that prior bills – most starting the vision test requirement at age 65.
Since renewals are required only every five years, setting the age at 76 means the proposed new law will not impact most citizens until they are aged 80 or older, Pody said. The bill was filed in response to constituents concerned that an older friend or relative was really not capable of driving competently, but reluctant to start an argument over the issue, he said.
“It’s a difficult subject to bring up in a family,” he said. “It’s hard to tell parents, or an aunt or uncle, that maybe it isn’t as safe for them to drive are it used to be.”
With passage of the bill, Pody said, the state would be saying “let’s make sure your eyes are still working” and that would “let them down as easy as we can” in facing the reality of the impacts of aging.
The bill allows an individual to submit a written statement from an ophthalmologist or optometrist on the renewal applicant’s vision capabilities, as corrected with eyeglasses or otherwise, in lieu of going through a Department of Safety test. It would take effect on July 1, 2016, and would not apply to persons applying for renewal prior to that date.