Thursday, July 20, 2006

Old Drivers

There was an op-ed piece in this morning’s NY Times written by a guy who was almost killed a year ago when a car driven by a 75-year-old incompetent smashed into him. He – the guy almost killed – is still recovering. He didn’t report on the condition of the 75-year-old driver, whom I guess is 76 now. And probably still driving.

The guy’s point is that when people get into their ‘golden years,’ say older than 65, their driving skills (or lack of them) should be tested regularly to confirm that they are not a danger to themselves or others when behind the wheel. And these days, almost everywhere, proving you are a competent driver isn’t required.

I’m 73. I think the last time I had a driving test was about 30 years ago when I moved back to California. They did ask me to prove I could see after I turned 65. But that’s it. Oh, I forgot, and I think I also had to pass a written test after I turned 65. I can see and I did pass the test, so I’m a happy guy behind the wheel of my manual shift ’85 Porsche 944. Like most everyone my age, I am SURE I’m still a good driver. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not.

I can tell you one thing. I am terrified when I see some doddering old man (sorry, I mean white haired gentleman,) hands gripping the steering wheel like a steel vise, eyes peering intently straight ahead, on the road next to me. Or some little old lady, barely able to see over the dashboard, tooling down the highway. “You old fart,” I think or say, get back to your rocking chair.

So I’m all for testing old people regularly before allowing them to drive a car. Including me. The hell with the notion that I have a ‘right’ to drive. It’s not a right. It’s a responsibility. I have no patience with old people who think that their advanced age makes them special. They’re just like the rest of us. Well, maybe not just like us; after all, they could be infirm.

Just kidding. I love my Dear Old Mum, who is 95. I really do. But I don’t want to see her in the driver’s seat.


Post a Comment

<< Home