Nebraska Driving Laws for Senior Citizens

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Certain facilities decline with age. An elderly person’s vision, hearing, strength, reflexes, and reaction time may not be what they once were. Modern car features play a crucial role in assisting senior citizens to drive safely and maintain their independence, highlighting the importance of vehicle technology in ensuring their safety on the road. These are all important qualities in a driver, making it important for state laws to stay on top of aging drivers. Like most states, Nebraska has special driving laws reserved for senior citizens. These laws aim to improve roadway safety and enable senior citizens to drive as long as possible.

Drivers 72 and Older Must Renew in Person

Every driver, regardless of age, must renew their driver’s license every five years in Nebraska. Once a driver reaches the age of 72, they must renew a driver’s license in person. Renewing online or by mail is no longer an option. During the in-person visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the elderly driver must also pass a vision test. The senior can choose to undergo a free vision test from a DMV employee or bring in a Statement of Vision from an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist. The Statement of Vision must have a date within 90 days of the DMV visit.

It is up to DMV personnel whether to require someone over 72 to also take a written or road driving test for driver’s license renewal, adhering to specific license renewal rules that may necessitate additional tests such as vision, written, or road tests. These rules and regulations vary by state and can include requirements for driving and knowledge tests. A staff member may require additional tests if the driver reports any medical problems or new health conditions, or if the driver was recently involved in a traffic accident. The DMV also accepts requests from the elderly driver’s family members to investigate the individual. A safe driver investigation looks into the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in light of safety concerns.

Restricted Driving Privileges for Older Drivers

In some cases, the DMV may restrict an elderly driver’s license or limit their driving privileges. This may be necessary if a driving road test shows the person has issues with certain situations, such as driving at night. The most common type of senior citizen license restriction is requiring the driver to wear prescription glasses or contact lenses. A decline in eyesight is a frequent reason for the DMV to restrict the elderly person’s driver’s license.

Unique Requirements

In Nebraska, the DMV also has the power to order an elderly driver to take certain precautions before driving. For example, the individual may need to install mechanical aids on the vehicle or add mirrors for enhanced visibility. The DMV could order a driver to stay off the interstate, only drive during the day, drive an automatic vehicle, use automatic turn signals, drive below a certain speed or take other actions to improve roadway safety. The DMV has jurisdiction over what it requires an elderly driver to do before allowing them back on the road.

Disability Placards

An elderly person may qualify for a disability placard if they cannot travel more than 200 feet unassisted due to visual or physical impairment. A driver may also qualify if they suffer from respiratory issues that impact mobility, cardiac conditions or a disability affecting one or more limbs. The driver will need to fill out an application for a handicapped license plate and/or parking placard at the DMV. The driver will also need a doctor’s signature on the medical portion of the form.

Common Medical Conditions Affecting Senior Drivers

As people age, various medical conditions can affect their ability to drive safely. It’s crucial for senior drivers and their families to be aware of these conditions and their potential impact on driving skills. Here are some common medical conditions that can affect senior drivers:

To ensure the safety of older drivers on the road, it’s important to follow specific safety tips tailored to manage their medical conditions and maintain safe driving habits. These tips include regular vision and hearing tests, understanding any license restrictions or renewal rules in Nebraska, and utilizing resources designed to assess and enhance the driving competencies of senior drivers.

Vision Impairments

Good vision is essential for safe driving. Several eye conditions commonly affect seniors and can impair their driving abilities:

  • Cataracts: Clouding of the eye’s lens can cause blurred vision and glare from headlights, making it difficult to see clearly.
  • Glaucoma: Increased pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve, leading to peripheral vision loss and making it hard to see obstacles or other vehicles.
  • Macular Degeneration: This condition affects the central part of the retina, leading to central vision loss, which can make it challenging to read road signs and see pedestrians.

Hearing Loss

Hearing is important for detecting sirens, horns, and other auditory signals while driving:

  • Presbycusis: Age-related hearing loss can make it difficult to hear high-pitched sounds, alarms, and emergency vehicles.
  • Tinnitus: Ringing or buzzing in the ears can be distracting and may affect concentration while driving.

Cognitive Decline

Cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and decision-making are crucial for safe driving:

  • Dementia: Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease can impair memory, judgment, and the ability to follow directions or respond quickly to traffic changes.
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): Even early stages of cognitive decline can affect reaction times and the ability to process complex driving environments.

Physical Limitations

Physical health issues can restrict mobility and reaction time, impacting the ability to control a vehicle:

  • Arthritis: Joint pain and stiffness can make it difficult to grip the steering wheel, press pedals, or turn to check blind spots.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: This condition can cause tremors, slowed movement, and muscle stiffness, affecting coordination and the ability to perform driving tasks smoothly.
  • Diabetes: Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to sudden dizziness or loss of consciousness, posing a significant risk while driving.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Heart and blood vessel issues can lead to sudden incapacitation or chronic symptoms that interfere with driving:

  • Heart Disease: Conditions such as coronary artery disease can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue, which can distract from safe driving.
  • Stroke: A history of stroke can result in physical disabilities, vision problems, and cognitive impairments, all of which can affect driving ability.

Neurological Disorders

Neurological conditions can impact motor skills, coordination, and overall control of the vehicle:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): MS can cause muscle weakness, impaired coordination, and vision problems, making it difficult to drive safely.
  • Epilepsy: Seizures can occur unexpectedly, leading to a sudden loss of consciousness or control of the vehicle.

Recognizing and managing these medical conditions is vital for maintaining safe driving practices among senior citizens. Regular medical check-ups, vision and hearing tests, and open communication with healthcare providers can help identify and address these issues early. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these conditions, it may be time to reassess driving abilities and consider alternative transportation options. For legal advice and assistance with senior driving issues, contact Knowles Law Firm for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to helping you navigate these challenges and ensure the safety and well-being of senior drivers and all road users.

Alternative Transportation Options

When driving becomes challenging or unsafe for senior citizens, it’s important to explore alternative transportation options to maintain independence and mobility. Here are several alternatives that can help seniors stay active and connected without driving:

Public Transportation

Public transportation can be a reliable and cost-effective option for seniors:

  • Buses and Trains: Most cities offer bus and train services that are equipped with accessibility features such as low floors, ramps, and priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Senior Discounts: Many public transportation systems provide discounted fares or free rides for senior citizens, making it an affordable option.

Ridesharing Services

Ridesharing services provide convenient and flexible transportation:

  • Uber and Lyft: These popular services allow seniors to request rides using a smartphone app, offering door-to-door service that is often faster and more comfortable than public transit.
  • Senior-Specific Services: Some ridesharing companies offer programs tailored for seniors, including assistance with getting in and out of the vehicle and helping with packages.

Community Transportation Programs

Community-based programs often provide transportation specifically for seniors:

  • Senior Shuttles: Many communities have shuttle services that transport seniors to medical appointments, grocery stores, community centers, and other essential locations.
  • Volunteer Driver Programs: Nonprofit organizations often organize volunteer driver programs where volunteers provide free or low-cost rides to seniors.

Paratransit Services

Paratransit services offer specialized transportation for individuals with disabilities:

  • Door-to-Door Service: Paratransit vehicles provide door-to-door service for those who cannot use regular public transportation due to physical or cognitive limitations.
  • Eligibility: Seniors need to apply and be certified as eligible for paratransit services, which are usually available through local transit agencies.

Taxi Services

Traditional taxi services can also be a good option for seniors who prefer not to use ridesharing apps:

  • Availability: Taxis are readily available in most urban areas and can be booked by phone, online, or through apps.
  • Accessibility: Many taxi companies offer accessible vehicles for passengers with mobility challenges.

Family and Friends

Family members and friends can provide reliable transportation support:

  • Scheduled Rides: Family and friends can help by scheduling regular rides for errands, appointments, and social activities.
  • Carpooling: Seniors can arrange to carpool with neighbors or friends who are already driving to similar destinations.

Walking and Cycling

For seniors who are still physically active, walking and cycling can be excellent alternatives:

  • Health Benefits: Walking and cycling provide exercise, which is beneficial for overall health and mobility.
  • Local Amenities: Living in a walkable community with nearby amenities makes these options more practical.

Senior Community Transportation

Many senior living communities offer their own transportation services:

  • Scheduled Outings: Senior communities often organize group outings and provide transportation to local events, shopping centers, and medical facilities.
  • On-Demand Services: Some communities offer on-demand transportation for residents, making it easy to schedule rides as needed.

Exploring alternative transportation options can help seniors maintain their independence and quality of life without the risks associated with driving. At Knowles Law Firm, we understand the challenges seniors face when transitioning away from driving. Our team is here to provide legal guidance and support to help you navigate this transition smoothly. If you have questions about senior driving laws or need assistance with any related legal matters, contact us for a free consultation. We are dedicated to helping you find the best solutions for your mobility and safety needs.

How to Improve Senior Driving Safety

If you have a senior citizen in your family with declining driving abilities, take time to educate him or her on driving safety. Broach the subject by expressing your concern for his or her safety. Tell your loved one to follow all restrictions the DMV placed on his or her driving abilities, including the possibility of a written test, which may be waived at the discretion of DMV personnel. Help your loved one keep up with doctor’s appointments. Regular exercise, vision exams, and checkups can help an elderly person drive safer and longer and avoid car accidents.

If you worry your loved one poses a risk to him/herself or others on the road, mail in a Citizen Examination Report to the Nebraska Driver Licensing Division. You may request to keep your report confidential if desired.