January 3, 2014

How Old Is Too Old?

In mid October '13, there was another fatality featuring an 85 year old driver. This particular individual executed a left turn in front of a mini-van, with the end result being that two people, including a pregnant mother-to-be were killed and four other were injured, including three children who are now motherless.

So besides asking the obvious question as to why this person was even driving to begin with, the next obvious question should be when is our elected representatives going to show some backbone and create a mandatory age that stops people from driving.

If we can shut down businesses because they don't want to violate their personal beliefs, why can't we stop the elderly from driving?

This should be a no brainer. As we age our motor skills and reactions times diminish, thus making us a potential driving hazard. And the whole "we crave our independence" reasoning doesn't work for me. There is no way you can convince me that I should respect an elderly (above the age of 70) person's driving independence when people are dying because of those elderly person's stubborn insistence on driving.

As Dirty Harry would say, "A person has got to know their limitations, and sadly, that kind of human collateral damage is the only way to effectively neutralize elderly drivers. It's also the only way to get the politicians to stop feeding at the AARP trough and do what their constituents elected them to do.

Now I know some of you may say that I'm full of shit, but really, what if it was your family that gets gravely or mortally injured because an elderly driver who shouldn't have been driving wasn't stopped? Would you still say I was full of shit?

For myself, my mother is 74 and yes, she still drives. And yes, I'm starting to get a little worried about her getting behind the wheel. While her mind is still sharp (sadly), her body is not. There is gonna be a day somewhere down the road, where we're gonna have to do some kind of intervention with her driving.

I know we lost a family friend because of his stubborn insistence that he was okay to drive, in spite of his advanced age (early 80's). He was not and it took both the police and his one remaining family member to take his car keys away.

Sooner or later, people will have to stand up to the pressure of groups like the aforementioned AARP and the pressure of elderly family members and say, "I don't think you can drive anymore", and take the keys away. If they scream about independence, tell then they can always hire some younger persons to drive them around. They can still keep their car, keep it insured, but have someone else drive them.

Controlling one's destiny is always a good thing, but shouldn't you do your damnedest to make sure no one is adversely affected by you controlling your destiny?

(c) 2014 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.


  1. In Canada, a doctor can report to Motor Vehicles any concerns about someone's continued ability to drive, and then that person will be called in for an assessment and driving exam.

  2. Debra: Makes sense. I think we have a similar thing here as well, but I believe the family has to make the initial call instead of the doctor.

  3. Oh George, oh George, oh George, please! Drunk drivers, teenage drivers, elderly drivers, drugged truck drivers, distracted drivers of all ages cause traffic fatalities. My "elderly" husband was stopped perfectly legally to make a left turn with his turn signal on and everything when a teenage texting driver plowed into the rear of his vehicle never even seeing him. She did not even apply her brakes or leave skid marks and hit him going 45 mph. Both vehicles were totaled and Ron was hospitalized but thankfully no one was killed. You cannot label an entire group by a few bad apples. I hope you will remember writing this when you are in the elderly category.

  4. G.A.: I don't label an entire group because of a few bad apples, but it seems here in CT, the vast majority of elderly drivers do not know how to drive, and its those that I have issues with. Granted there is a small percentage of those over 70 that can drive well, but those are few and far between in my neck of the woods. I don't enjoy coming up on an elderly driver on the highway who is going 15+ miles below the speed limit, nor do I enjoy seeing those on the main drag go 5 miles below the speed limit yet have no problem going through red lights and stop signs.

    The point is that stubbornness does not trump common sense when it comes to driving, no matter what the age.

  5. In Ontario drivers over 80 years of age need to take a special re-certification test every two years to maintain their license, and having seen how one of my grandfathers used to drive when he got ancient, I'm all for it.

  6. S.R.: At least your country is one step ahead of ours. I don't think ours really tests when you get to be that old unless a doctor requires it.

  7. In Georgia doctors can have the DMV suspend the licenses of those who have seizure or syncope disorders for 6 months after an episode. I know this for sure because it has happened to me a few times. I don't see why they couldn't do that for the elderly. I don't mind that the elderly go slow. I mind when their ability is obviously lacking. I had this conversation a few years ago with someone who contended that her 87 year old mother was perfectly safe to drive. I saw her mother later that day driving on the wrong side of the road. She never did take the keys away from her mother.

  8. As I said on G Annie's blog, my Dad still drives and he's in his 80's and truly as much as I love him, he shouldn't be driving. Not so much for other drivers, but for him and my mother. He used to be an excellent driver but now his reaction time is too slow.

  9. Lisa: Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    Pretty scary to hear of an 87 year old driving on the wrong side of the road. Glad that no one was hurt.

    Sounds like an interesting tidbit in regards to medical conditions as it applies to driving.

    Joe: That is a major bone of contention with me. Slower reaction times causes people to take unnecessary risks which in turn can cause unnecessary accidents.

  10. You know, I have thought about this for a few days. I don't think there should be a cut off age, but people need to use common sense. I know people who have quit driving when they knew it wasn't a good idea anymore - some because of reflexes, some because of vision issues, some because of other stuff. I think self-awareness is really important.

  11. M: Common sense and self-awareness is all well and good, but most people have zero quantities of each. That's what really frightens me: relying on the self-judgments of others.


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