Rep. Keicher, Sen. DeWitte Join AARP to Call for End to Discriminatory Driving Law

Photo left to right: Sen. Don DeWitte, AARP Illinois volunteer Candice Trees, AARP Illinois Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach Ryan Gruenenfelder, Rep. Jeff Keicher, Rep. Dave Vella and Rep. Joyce Mason.

Today at the Illinois Capitol, State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) and State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) joined AARP Illinois for a bipartisan press conference to call for an end to Illinois’ status as the only state to mandate extra driving tests for those 75 and over, regardless of driving record or ability. House Bill 4431, filed in the House of Representatives by Keicher, would end this practice.

“Every day, drivers over 75 years of age are capably and safely driving their grandchildren to school, picking up groceries and prescriptions, and driving to their doctor’s visits, just like the rest of us,” said Keicher. “There is simply no evidence to show that they need an extra test to do these things and it’s about time we remove this requirement.”

An Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) report released in 2022 showed virtually no change in crash rates for drivers 75 and older, with a crash rate of 24.39 per 1,000 drivers, which is lower than every age range of drivers between 16 and 69 years old.

“Illinois is the last state to mandate this antiquated test under an unfounded assumption about older drivers,” said DeWitte. “It’s time to remove this unnecessary burden placed on millions of Illinoisans.”

In addition to the IDOT report, the most recent data from the National Safety Council shows that drivers 75 and older are involved in fewer fatal crashes than any other age group. In 2021, the most recent year of data, drivers 75+ were involved in only 3,263 fatal crashes, which is 1,500 fewer than the next closet age bracket and dramatically less than the 13,200 fatal crashes involving drivers aged 25 to 34, the highest fatal crash prone age bracket.

“AARP Illinois has heard for years from our members about how this law disproportionately affects older drivers and perpetuates false narratives about their driving abilities,” said AARP Illinois Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach Ryan Gruenenfelder. “The research clearly shows that older drivers are the safest drivers on our roadways, and we believe that singling them out to take an extra test is a type of age discrimination and has to end.”

“As an older driver I find it tedious to have to take more tests since I turned 75,” said Candice Trees, an AARP Illinois volunteer. “I’ve been a safe driver my entire life, nothing has changed, and it’s unfair that my friends and I have to take an extra test when older drivers are the safest drivers on the road.”

Keicher also highlighted the need to update Illinois law further to focus on “triggers” that would cause somebody to be a bad driver, regardless of age, like adverse health conditions, mental capacity, accidents, and tickets, as birthdays do not make people bad drivers. This goal will be pursued in future legislation.

HB 4431 passed out of committee earlier this month and now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives before heading to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

For more information about HB 4431, click here.