An article in today’s Gazette entitled “Campaign aims to keep seniors behind the wheel” really got my goat this morning (a goat that is getting older by the day, I will add). The premise of the article was that initiatives to keep seniors more fit for driving would be both an important advance in road safety as well as meeting seniors’ expectations that they keep driving as long as possible. A good idea….as far as it goes.
Driving is not a right, it is a privilege that carries with it a great public responsibility. There are many types of impairment and those associated with aging are just a few that afflict drivers. Stress, cellphones, drugs both legal and illegal (including alcohol), lack of adequate training (Driver’s Ed is not mandatory in this province, so if you learned from Uncle Harry, you’ll drive like Uncle Harry), the condition of your vehicle, the design and condition of the roads and signage, the condition of your personality (I see lots of middle-aged and younger “nuts” on the road every day), and even the equipment in that vehicle (I saw an ad today for a dash mounted combination GPS and DVD player…yikes!).
Keeping seniors fit for driving is a good idea, but the real keys to road safety are: Mandatory driver education before getting a license, competency re-testing every 5 years for all drivers (more often for those over 75), weaning police officers off the comfort of sitting in their cars waiting for speeders in their radar-gun sights (and getting them on the road in unmarked cars picking off the dangerous drivers with whopping fines) and mandatory seizure and auction of any drunk or doped up driver’s car – with the proceeds going to a victim’s fund.
And with respect to old folks driving I still like the joke: “I want to die like my 90 year-old grandpa, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming like the passengers in his car at the time” :-)