Forget the Amusement Park: Ride with Grandma!

Jan Fulton sent the following letter


Regarding the question of elderly drivers, I have three who immediately come to mind.

First is my mother-in-law. At 73, she has lost control of most of the muscles in her body. She can hardly stand, must shuffle to walk because she can't lift her legs and has trouble seeing clearly because the muscles in her face don't allow her to keep her eyelids open. She does, however, have a license to drive and does so frequently. How she got her license is the most alarming part, since it shows the disregard she has for the law and the lack of regulation in the state of Michigan.

She renewed a license that had been lapsed for more than five years by driving herself to the local DMV, shuffling up to the counter and asking for it. No test was involved, written, vision, driving or otherwise. In fact, nobody there even raised the question about her presence behind the wheel. We found out later that she had been driving without a license for nearly a year at that point!

Second is my uncle. He is 88 years old and has cataracts so bad that he is lucky to see any images at all under ideal light conditions. Further, his concentration and awareness of his surroundings have dwindled to the point that you often have to remind him where he is and what he's doing. When he does see stop signs, he takes them as a suggestion, as in, "If you feel like it and it's not too much trouble..." The last time we rode with him, he pulled out into an intersection against the light and proceeded to make a left turn into oncoming traffic. When people blew their horns and swerved to avoid him, he commented that he didn't understand why people were in such a hurry today.

Third is my late father-in-law. During a conversation a few months ago, he told a tale of road rage. Seems he was driving along when an older lady pulled in front of him. Because she was going slow, he decided to pull around her and give her room. Naturally, he went to the left, which was directly into oncoming traffic. His commentary was based on the fact that people in cars coming at him just didn't have the patience to let him complete his maneuver!

There is one consideration that I do have: perhaps these people do serve a purpose. After all, last year my family saved hundreds of dollars in amusement park admissions. Instead of spending money at one of these glitzy institutions, we just took a ride with Grandma!

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