Olympia – Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) has sponsored legislation to increase road safety by reducing the length of time before an older driver’s license expires.
Washington saw the second-highest increase in road fatalities in 2022, despite road deaths declining nationwide. Senate Bill 5560 joins a slate of bills aimed at promoting traffic safety this session.
“This isn’t always a comfortable conversation, but we need to look at the facts,” said Hunt. “We want to keep all people on the road safe—whether it’s commuters, workers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. As someone ages, we need to be looking at keeping them and those around them on the road safe.”
The legislation requires the Department of Licensing (DOL), in consultation with relevant groups and agencies, to develop a comprehensive plan and draft rules aimed at improving older driver safety. Rules may include:
- Reducing the length of time before an older driver’s license expires.
- Requiring older drivers to complete an older driver knowledge and skills refresher course that emphasizes the unique issues faced by older drivers.
- Creating a program by which older drivers may voluntarily surrender their driver’s license before the expiration date and receive a no cost identicard.
- Imposing additional restrictions or conditions on “high risk older drivers,” which may include restrictions on when and where they can drive and requirements for driver monitoring technology.
Older drivers are defined as those over the age 70 in the bill.
Another bill introduced, Senate Bill 5583, would aim to increase safety for younger drivers.
“We need to be doing more to make Washington’s roads safer and ensure more folks are getting home to their families at the end of their commutes,” said Sen. Marko Liias, (D-Everett), the bill’s sponsor. “Requiring more training before young drivers get on the road is just one step closer to reaching that goal and making sure everyone is equipped with the tools necessary to help them make safe decisions behind the wheel.”
Drivers aged 18-25 have some of the highest rates of accidents. The bill would require new drivers in that age range to complete drivers’ education courses before receiving their licenses.
Both bills are scheduled to be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 4 p.m.