Elderly Drivers

Senior citizens should be off the roads! Anyone over the age of 65 that cannot handle the responsibility of driving a vehicle should not be allowed to drive. To weed out these people every person once they reach that age should have to retake their written and road driving exams that year, and every year after that. This will dramatically minimize the amount of accidents caused by the elderly. My grandfather is an example of a bad driver over the age of 70. He is 78 and still drives although I do not believe that he should. He had a bad work accident (not involving a vehicle) about a year and a month ago that has affected him greatly. He hurt his arm really badly and now it is even hard for him to turn the key, or put on his seat belt imagine what hes like driving it. For instance one time when he was driving me out to my dads house he was driving about speed limit, but on the wrong side! He was driving on the left had side of the road maybe he thought he was in Europe? I dont know what he thought, but all of a sudden we met another vehicle and grandpa wasnt moving over. It wasnt until the other vehicle was only _______ feet away from our truck that he moved other almost colliding with it. Luckily no one was hurt, but that experience could quite easily have ended differently. From now on when my grandpa is taking me out to the farm I drive! Most senior citizens that should not be driving do not think that they are bad drivers. They may think that they have gotten worse as the years have passed, but in actuality their driving is dangerous. These people need to be proved to that they should not be on the roads as drivers but only as passengers. If retaking their road test is the only way to do this than thats the way it should be.
Elderly drives are a hazard to all drivers. They cause accidents all the time. For example in September of 2003, an 88-year-old woman lost control of her car and killed an elderly couple in Roseville, Minnesota. The same day in Santa Cruz, California, an 85-year-old driver injured four pedestrians. In July, an 86-year-old driver killed ten people when his vehicle plowed through a farmers market in Santa Monica, California. These are just a few examples of many. All the time you read new headlines that say: Elderly driver causes accident, 80 year old woman failed to stop at a red light, 3 dead, etc. Quality Planning Corporation released statistics from over one million drivers across the United States. The statistics show that drivers over 81 years of age are involved in 27 reported accidents for every estimated one million miles driven. The data compiled by QPC revealed that the most accident-prone age group is 16-24, after which accidents drop from 28 to 16 for 21 to 30 year olds and continue to decrease until the 61-70 age bracket, at which point the accident rate starts to climb back up to about the same rate as that of the youngest drivers.1 Those statistics are about the same as they would be in Canada. Given that information proves that elderly drivers are a major cause of accidents across Canada and America. Even though the elderly drivers cause around the same amount of accidents as does a 16 to 20 year old, they are at more risk of fatality and injury in an accident. A person 65 or older who is involved in a car accident is more likely to be seriously hurt, hospitalized, and more likely to die than younger people involved in the same crash. Fatal crash rates rise harshly after a driver has reached the age of 70.

As someone ages their ability to do the activities they once loved decreases. Their bodies change gradually in such ways that affect their driving skills. Many elders are hard on hearing affecting their driving because they will not be able to hear other vehicles honking their horns, screeching tires, or an emergency vehicle siren. As a person ages their eyesight also gets worse. This is a big problem especially if the driver does not notice the change. Even if their eyes are normal they have probably lost some contrast sensitivity, which is the ability to detect sharp borders and slight changes in lighting. This sensitivity helps in seeing the traffic lights change colors and it makes it easier to see things in the dark or at dusk. Numerous senior citizens have arthritis, muscle degeneration and other diseases that affect movement, which is essential to driving. Medication is a big part of growing old. All of my grandparents take several pills every day, some of which could affect their driving skills, but they may not even know it. Most people feel that these effects do not concern them and they are still as good of drivers as they were when they were younger. This is because of gradual change rather than rapid change. When someone changes more gradually they do not notice it as much as they would with a rapid change. If elders had to take their test over again they would recognize the changes that had been made if there were any. If a person does not pass the first time they can get whatever they did wrong fixed or checked out and then go back and retake it to see if they can drive again. If the problem cannot be fixed then they simply have to live with the fact that they are safer in their homes than on the roads where they can be a hazard.

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Some seniors will argue that taking away their license is like taking away their freedom. On the other hand, if an elder causes an accident because of changes in their life due to age, they will be taking away the freedom of another person or themselves. If they kill someone that person will have no life left to live and no freedom. For sure people would be more worried about the people that could die than the senior citizen that has to stay at home. For the seniors that do have their licenses revoked and their freedom taken away there are alternatives to make their life seem just as free as it was with their license. Most elders have children that would gladly drive them around rather than have them get into an accident. There are busses in large cities and for people who live in small communities where there is no bus they can always get a scooter that they can take almost anywhere. If an elder is finding that they have to get the groceries and are not able to get a driver or catch a bus, most businesses will deliver the groceries right to your door. For example, AG Foods in St. Walburg will deliver your groceries for you if you so demand. If a senior wants food from a restaurant, most restaurants deliver. A person can get just about anything delivered nowadays. When the seniors complain that getting all this extra transportation is not affordable they should think about all the money they would have been spending on gas, insurance, repairs, etc. on their automobile. All that money saved can go to buying their new ways of transportation. To summarize, between public, private and hired transportation, giving up a car does not mean being stuck at home.

From the age of sixteen to sixty-five, about fifty years, there are many changes in the laws regarding driving and automobiles. These changes are sometimes not recognized by the senior drivers, therefore causing more accidents and violations by elders. For example the speed limit for divided highways in Saskatchewan is now up to 110km/h instead of the old 100km/h. My uncle who is seventy years old did not know this, and people began to pass us and we slowed down traffic. Following the speed limit is a good example of how elders have a good chance of causing accidents. If an elderly person is driving way too slow and a semi comes up behind them, they have to go through a lot of gears in order to slow down to the same pace. If they do not slow down in time they may rear end the slow vehicle or have to use an emergency break causing damage to the semi. To learn all these new rules and regulations there are courses for seniors to take. However, most seniors do not recognize that they have a problem driving and do not see themselves as a hazard on the roads. They believe that they should not have to retake a course and they know what they are doing.
Many elders may think that putting an age limit on their driving is discriminatory. This is not so because it is not like this law is banning all drivers over a certain age, it is just banning certain people that should no longer be driving by testing them fairly. It is no different than failing a sixteen year old or a twenty year old when they take their road test. It should not be considered as age discrimination because everyone will be old at one time if they live that long. Everyone knows that with living there comes getting old and eventually dying. If the elders feel that they are being discriminated towards because of their age, then thats stupid because the people trying to fight them not to drive are also going to be old in the upcoming future and will also have to retake their test. Making this new law would be no more discriminatory than the drinking age, age to get drivers permit and drivers license, and the age that you are allowed to be in high school until.

Too many accidents are caused because of elderly drivers not knowing what to do or not being able to do things properly in regards to driving a vehicle. Making people over the age of 65 retake both their written and road exams once a year could solve this problem. If a person is 70 or older and is still capable to operate a vehicle properly then what is the big deal if they have to take a test once a year. They should not be worried. If they are one of the ones that are not able to drive the way they used to then it will be good for everyone, not having to worry about having them on the road as a danger. My grandfather knows that his driving skills have decreased quite a bit, but he does not seem to understand that he should actually not be on the road. He is a danger to all people because his hearing is bad, his arm doesnt work very well, he has a hard time seeing at night, and he has poor reflexes. If he had his license taken away and was off the road I would feel much safer and would worry much less for him because I am scared that when he drives that he will get into an accident.
1 Statistics from: (http://www.qualityplanning.com/news/030929-Older%20drivers.htm)


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