Drivers in Florida can go as long as 18 years without having their eyesight tested when they renew their driver’s licenses. But legislation that cleared a House committee Tuesday would require an eye exam every six years.
The idea came from Tampa Bay area high school students after an elderly driver hit a pedestrian and didn’t realize it.
Legislation sponsor Rep. Kevin Ambler introduced the bill after 7,000 high school students in Tampa voted it their top concern.
“So that in the student’s bill, they’ll require that you either go in and have your eyes tested at the Department of Motor Vehicles or you have a doctor’s certificate within 12 months of your renewal date.”
Balancing the rights of the elderly to drive against safety concerns has been an unresolved issue at the Capitol for at least 20 years. These high school students took on the idea of passing the bill as a democracy project.
One of the students pushing the bill is Lizzy De Santis.
“Once again, the goal of this bill is not to inhibit older drivers, but to ensure a safer road by taking a preventative approach.”
Even Gov. Jeb Bush concedes more vision testing might be a good idea.
“I can tell you in the last seven years, you know, my eyesight has gotten a lot worse.”
In the past, AARP has vehemently opposed the additional restrictions for older drivers, but this time Leslie Spencer of AARP says they’re being more relaxed about it.
“We support the provision that requires visual testing for all renewals.”
Because the bill applies to all drivers, AARP isn’t complaining about the elderly being singled out.