Elderly Drivers

By: Cassie Rindt
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 he’s like driving it. For instance
one time when he was driving me out to my dad’s 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 don’t know what he thought,
but all of a sudden we met another vehicle and grandpa wasn’t moving over.

It wasn’t 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 that’s the way it
should be.

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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.

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 that’s 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 doesn’t 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.


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1 Statistics from: (http://www.qualityplanning.com/news/030929-
Older%20drivers.htm)

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