WRITTEN BY NICOLE ANN FEDERICO
Do you think that our roads are safe filled with America’s elderly drivers? Well, they are not! Being a driver myself I know first hand how unsafe the roads are. Elderly drivers are stopping short and driving slow just to read the street signs. On the highways they creep along at a dangerous speed. Drivers over the age of eighty are a danger to themselves and every single person around them. There are way too many citizens and politicians overly concerned about a minimum driving age, when they should actually be debating the maximum age limit. Most senior citizens have below par hearing, lousy eyesight, health conditions and concerns. These medical issues have to be taken into serious thought and that is why I think there should be a national law that when you reach the age of 80 your drivers license should be revoked.
Let me guess, one or both of your grandparents have at one time or another said “What?, speak louder, I can’t hear you.” Sure being a great grandchild like you are you’ll repeat yourself. Unfortunately, while driving on the road they only have ONE chance to hear a honk. Even worse ONE chance to hear someone scream. Hearing loss comes gradually with old age and sadly often goes untreated. This is dangerous because as a driver one very important rule of the road is that if you hear sirens you MUST pull over. In emergency situations, emergency vehicles such as cop cars, fire trucks, and ambulances have to be able to get through. These vehicles have to navigate quickly, which at times can even include driving through a red light, or driving on the opposite side of the road. Nobody wants these emergency vehicles getting into an accident. Think about this, do you want someone to lose a life because an emergency vehicle could not get through because of an elderly driver? Is it worth it?
Not only do senior citizens lose hearing with age they also lose eyesight, which is a main essential in driving. How can the driver tell how close they are behind another vehicle? They might miss road signs or traffic lights, they could miss pavement markings and possibly veer into other car lanes. I do not even want to imagine the possible disaster if there are children playing outside in the streets. With all these thoughts running through your mind, is this the kind of drivers you want on our roads?
Older drivers are more at risk to have health problems occur like a heart attack or a stroke while driving. Other chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Arthritis and Alzheimer’s can impact driving conditions. A medical emergency is more likely to occur as people age. This could cause extreme damage, killing other drivers, pedestrians, and even fellow passengers in their car. When will more people realize having senior citizens on the roads is VERY dangerous. I hope before it is too late and more people lose somebody they love.
I’m sure you will not be surprised if I told you that when you get older your reactions, reflexes, and alertness tend to slow down. Let’s think of two examples of putting children’s lives in danger due to decreased ability. Drivers need to stop quickly if a crossing guard puts up his or her hand out because the guard controls the traffic to let children safely cross the street. Another example is when a school bus extends its medium size stop sign, if you’re right behind that school bus you’re going to need quick reactions to stop immediately. If a man or woman is slow to respond that could be a dangerous situation for everyone behind them.
Most people would argue that some senior citizens have no other transportation or can’t pay for the high cost of car service. The elderly could ask family and friends to help whenever it is convenient for them. They can also take a bus or a train to their location. Yes, some seniors do not have any family members or friends that live close and they can not walk up the stairs to get on the bus, there are alternative options for these individuals. As far as meals go, they can call Meals On Wheels, who will prepare and deliver cooked nutritious meals daily, weekly, or monthly. Food can now also be ordered online from restaurants and supermarkets. In New York City there is also another means of transportation to disabled called Access-A-Ride. A driver will be sent to your location, pick you up, drive you to your destination, and ( by setting a return time) will pick you back up and get you home safely. There vehicles are also walker and wheelchair friendly.
Now, you can plainly see, the only practical thing to do, is for all drivers over the age of 80 to have their licenses revoked. This would take a lot of high risk off the roads and you can feel more safe driving and even walking the streets. How long are you willing to let these rules stay as they are? If you get into a major car accident and a senior citizen is driving the other car, what are you going to say? I hope that those in power decide to enact a law in the near future.
If addressed with dignity the elderly driver should consider giving up their license as a positive change in their lifestyle. They innocently are not realizing the decrease in ability of aged humans to operate potentially lethal machinery. It is similar to retirement which older people look forward to. They have earned the privilege of being chauffeured for all their years of service and miles they have traveled for themselves, family, and friends. It is now time to sit back and enjoy the ride. Take the elderly car keys AWAY!