With Massachusetts lawmakers considering more stringent regulations on drivers over the age of 85, area residents who would be affected had mixed feelings about how additional tests should be implemented.

With Massachusetts lawmakers considering more stringent regulations on drivers over the age of 85, area residents who would be affected had mixed feelings about how additional tests should be implemented.


Richard King, 87, did not give a second thought when he drove to the Fairbank Senior Center in Sudbury on Wednesday.


"I'm almost 90 and still driving, and you better believe it," he said while stuffing envelopes for the Center's weekly senior bulletin.


"Well, don't tell the authorities that," his friend, 78-year-old Peggy Angel of Sudbury, replied, "They'll take away your license."


Angel explained she believes that driving tests are necessary for safer roads but "they should look at who has a bad driving record before they test people."


"I've never gotten a ticket in my life. I have no records with the police or anyone else and I am in good health," she said. "I don't want you testing me just because I'm over 70."


But, King responded "giving a 10-year license to a 70-year-old is a bit ridiculous," he said. "Ten years is a long time when you're our age."


At the Holliston Senior Center, Dorris McGrath, 79, said while she welcomes additional driving tests, she believes that they should be administered to drivers of all ages, saying that while senior drivers might have a tendency to be slow and confused, younger drivers are too fast and erratic to be safe.


Roger Meritt, 71, of Holliston said anyone could be a dangerous driver, but said he becomes concerned when he sees handicapped seniors driving.


"Sometimes you see people at Wal-Mart who it takes all the strength they have to get into the store, and they have the walker and everything," he said. "You just have to wonder, how does this person maneuver on Rte. 495? What happens if they have to stop short and they are going 65, 70 miles an hour? Can they make it?"


Northborough resident Robert Flint, 82, does not drive at night per his doctor's request because he has glaucoma. But Flint, who has no problems with his reflexes, said he "would be lost" if he ever had to stop driving completely because the rest of his family relies on him for transportation.


Living in a town with a lack of public transportation, Flint is responsible for driving his daughter, who has epilepsy and is not allowed to drive for medical reasons, and his 12-year-old granddaughter.


Grace Gledhill, 73, of Wayland said "it would throw me in a tailspin" to have to hand in her license because "I've always been an independent person, and to be independent, I need a car."


Still, Gledhill believes additional tests for the elderly are necessary.


"I know people up in their 80's, who can barely walk, and who I would never get into a car with," she said.


Bob Gagnon of Franklin questioned why elderly drivers were being singled out but said, "If they think it'll make it safer, I guess it's all right."


Anthony Grillo said more accidents are caused by people - not seniors - on cell phones. He thought a doctor should make the call on when a senior should stop driving.


Gordon Curtis of Bellingham said it may be difficult to convince some to give up their license.


"Most of the seniors are independent and they don't look forward to that request. Hopefully, they realize it's time to stop on their own. That's the best way to do it," he said.


The MetroWest Daily News