With this COVID-19 mess being particularly hard on senior citizens, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office is trying to make one part of life a little bit easier.

Maybe not easier, but at least he's giving seniors an extension when it comes to renewing their drivers licenses.

The Illinois Secretary of State said this morning that senior citizens, aged 75 and older, who have a drivers license that expires this year, don't have to renew that license until after their birthday in 2021.

In addition to being 75 or older, the driver must have a valid license, and drivers who are suspended or revoked do not qualify for the one-year extension.

And, if you meet the qualifications, you don't have to worry about remembering the offer. The Illinois Secretary of State's office says that they'll mail out a reminder for you. All you have to do is keep the letter with you so you'll have proof that you're part of the extension.

This offer isn't just for a few people, either. According to the Secretary of State's office, there are approximately 147,000 drivers aged 75 or over with expired or expiring driver's licenses in 2020.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White:

I am mindful of the heightened risks associated with seniors contracting COVID-19, and that is why I have authorized this important change during this challenging and unique time.

As for all of us under that age, expiration dates for driver's licenses/ID cards and license plate stickers have been extended until November 1st. Expired documents will remain valid until November 1st.

Speaking of senior drivers, I did a little digging around for some facts, figures, and numbers about the senior driving experience. AAA Chicago has some figures comparing seniors behind the wheel to other ages:

  • Fifty percent of the middle-aged population and 80 percent of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, crippling inflammation of the joints, which makes turning, flexing and twisting painful.
  • Weaker muscles, reduced flexibility and limited range of motion restrict senior drivers’ ability to grip and turn the steering wheel, press the accelerator or brake, or reach to open doors and windows.
  • More than 75 percent of drivers age 65 or older report using one or more medications, but less than one-third acknowledged awareness of the potential impact of the medications on driving performance.
  • Since older drivers are more fragile, their fatality rates are 17 times higher than those of 25- to 64-year-olds.
  • In 2009, 33 million licensed drivers were over age 65 – a 20 percent increase from 1999. And by the year 2030, 70 million Americans in the U.S. will be over age 65 – and 85 to 90 percent of them will be licensed to drive.
  • In 2014, nearly 5,709 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic crashes.