Rant and Rave

When "Stupid Adult Drivers" Get Old

John Gilroy sent the following letter

Your Blue-Hair Rant, though it touches on a serious subject, mistakenly attributes the cause of your burgeoning road rage to the ages of (some of) the idiots out there.

Of course it is easy to determine anecdotally that aged drivers are a leading cause of accidents, but have you considered that it often "takes two to tango"? Split the accident rate for aged drivers into "single car, driver error" and those in which someone else may have failed to exercise due caution, and the stats would have more meaning. I am all too rapidly approaching that magical time where the assumption will be made that I am impaired strictly because of my age.

And I resent the implication.

I know full well that, as a teenager and as an adult, I have had occasions when I was surprised (on later contemplation) that I actually got home in one piece. My degree of impairment, whether induced by fatigue or by recreational consumption, *could have been* a cause for great distress. What saved me? Instinct!

Yes, I claim that the problems described in the follow-ups to your Rant, and the implications you make in the original Rant, are not to be ascribed to age per se, but to absurd habits acquired over a lifetime of driving.

In brief, a stupid adult driver will be a greater menace when age-related limitations take hold. An alert, responsible driver will know when not to drive. This is true whether he has taken cold medicine or drink, or when he becomes physically limited due to age.

I know a lot of people who, once they learned to parallel park to pass their license examination, promptly forgot all the collective wisdom supposedly acquired by studying the manual. I've seen more of them on the road--especially in New Jersey. They are the fools that God watches out for. I watch out for them, too, but purely for self-preservation.

I tend to agree with the AARP position that age is not a prima facie reason to question a driver's capability. Sober, conscientious, self-aware drivers of any age are less a threat to me on the road than the ditzes Teresa Smith alludes to. I'd take it one step further. All drivers should be required periodically to pass a road test under "real life" conditions. This would include:

1) Monitoring whether the driver stayed to the right and kept to a speed appropriate to conditions.
B) Surreptitiously drugging up the driver to determine when the driver declines to get behind the wheel. If that point is not reached below the DUI levels, yank the license.
III) Instituting a "How's my driving?" complaint number for everyone! Too many complaints and the driver is examined thoroughly. If bad habits have crept in, restrictions would apply.

Good drivers know when to quit. Bad drivers don't. When the boomers, who have a lot of bad drivers among them, get to their physical limitations (as some have gotten to their mental limitations already), we'll have one helluva mess. We've got to exercise some preventive measures now.

Until we do, I'm still looking for an affordable Hummer.


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