July 2, 2018 By Christian Murray
Thousands of Queens residents have signed an online petition calling on the governor and state legislature to change the licensing requirements for older motorists.
The petition follows the death of Madeline Shershen, 17, who was killed by an 88-year-old driver while crossing Utopia Parkway– in the marked crosswalk– on Monday, June 25.
Shershen, a Flushing resident, had the walk light but was hit by Sheila Kahn Prager, 88, who failed to stop for the light at the intersection of Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue. The octogenarian was charged with three crimes, including disobeying a traffic control device.
The petition is calling on New York State to implement specific requirements for drivers over the age of 80 as a means to increase road safety. It calls for mandatory retesting every two years for all drivers age 80 and over. Nearly 7,500 have signed the petition since it was launched June 30.
Currently, in New York state, a license only needs to be renewed every 8 years with no specific requirements for older individuals.
“Simply passing a vision exam is an extremely low standard for a person to maintain their privilege to drive,” reads the petition. “A person’s memory (i.e. individuals suffering from dementia) and reaction time must also be assessed during the license renewal process.”
The petition says that “Maddie’s death could have been prevented. Unlike many other states, New York state does not have specific provisions for older drivers.”
Some states require seniors to renew their license in person and/or provide a doctor’s certificate stating they are medically fit to drive. Other states, such as Indiana, require drivers over 75 years to renew their license every three years compared with every four years for younger drivers. At age 85, drivers in Indiana must begin renewing their license every two years.
Click for petition