Sunday, March 28, 2010

How old is too old to drive?

I think the better question: How frail is too frail to drive? Not a legal term, but one which requires examination. More often than not, we see those with canes, hobbling away from a car, people who cannot navigate their bodies well when standing, have issues with mobility when navigating a 4,000 lb. vehicle. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to protect us from ourselves.

Originally published in the Gazette on March 17th 2010.

..An 81-year-old school bus driver crashed into a light pole in Edmonton recently, the local school district announced it would look into imposing more stringent testing for bus drivers over 70.

Since January, at least three school bus drivers over 65 have been accused of causing traffic accidents.

On March 10, a 74-year-old bus driver was charged with failing to obey a stop sign after colliding with a car in Almonte, Ont., according to police. Several students were onboard at the time but none was injured.

On Jan. 22, a 71-year-old bus driver was charged with failing to yield to traffic after colliding with a car in Powassan, Ont. No students were injured in that incident either.

The Edmonton case happened Jan. 11. According to police, the 81-year-old driver was in a turn lane, but instead of turning, he proceeded into oncoming traffic and smashed into a light pole. A crane had to be used to lift the bus off the pole. The only passenger on the bus was not hurt. The driver, who was serving the Edmonton Catholic School District, was charged with making an improper turn.

What is the answer?
Is it regular road tests?
More physicians working harder, or adult children taking responsibility?
Is it all of the above?
It is not Ageism, as many senior lobby groups suggest, for we know that with age our response times change, we have mobility issues, and vision issues.

We cannot TRUST that those unable to navigate in traffic will give up their licence, for we know that those whose licences have been taken away by the courts are still driving.

This is what happens when senior drivers slow down, afraid to drive on faster highways, they slow traffic and beget congestion and passing.

Come the shoulder seasons in Muskoka, when seniors return from southerly vacations, we often see drivers who travel 20 km under the speed limit. It is frightening. It causes accidents.
These photos are all from June, 2009.

There is a balance between independence and the rights of other drivers to having a safe trip on municipal highways, streets and biways.

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