It’s a perfectly valid question. Just as people under a certain age aren’t allowed to drive, old folks should be expected to prove they can still cope with modern roads, driving conditions, laws, signs and so on. Personally I think anyone over 60 must retake their driving test every 5 years, and if they did I wouldn’t be surprised to find the roads clear of these bumbling, smiling fools who are one step away from causing a serious accident!
I have a very good reason for today’s rant. When I was 17 I failed my driving test big time, I was way too nervous and unprepared, thanks in part to my moronic driving instructor who couldn’t care less about my ability so long as I kept handing over the cash. Last June I passed my test and I still remember everything my instructor taught me. A good instructor makes all the difference! I’ll be 36 on Monday and even though I’m a new driver, I’m calm, in control and observant of everything around me whilst driving – a world apart from the young careless drivers and the old dangerous drivers I see on the roads every day.
Since last June I’ve seen so many bad drivers, young and old. There’s no excuse for acting like a turd when you’re in control of a potential killing machine. However, I’ve noticed it isn’t the young kids who are dangerous, it’s the old biddies that scare me. Here are a few examples why:
A few weeks ago…
I was driving home from the supermarket. The traffic slowed up to let people pull into a side road. When we started moving again, slow moving I might add, I spotted a white haired old fella trying to pull onto the main road. He seemed to have problems as his car stuttered and jerked. I slowed down to give him room to pull out. Then he stalled his car. No big deal. I do that. I figured he was stationary so I moved ahead. All of a sudden he surged out of the side road, right across my path, swerving all over the place. I break and pulled over to give him room, thankfully the car behind me was quite far back.
I took a deep breath and kept my distance from the crazy old fool who didn’t seem to care he had nearly crashed into me.
I needed to go to the bank. I pulled up in the small parking space outside, hand brake on, car secure, locked etc. I noticed in the rear view mirror one of those horrible tiny city cars, bright blue, was pulling in behind me. Just above the steering wheel was a mop of white curly hair. I went to the ATM machine, got my cash and returned to my car. The owner of the blue bubble car was one of the oldest people I’ve ever seen! I’m not joking. I don’t know how she wasn’t dead. She could barely open her door. And when she did I was alarmed to see 2 walking sticks.
My mobile rang so I was able to stand and watch this elderly lady struggling as I talked. I did wonder if I should offer her some assistance but the last time I did that I got nothing but abuse for my efforts. The lady in the bubble car took a few minutes to get out and lock up. I watched her hobble to the bank, she could barely walk. I was told by my friend on the phone to get some stamps from the post office. Big queue.
When I returned the old lady was back behind her steering wheel, revving her engine like she was a Formula 1 driver. It took her a looooong time to manoeuvre her cute bubble city car into the road. By the time I pulled out she had got about 50 yards down the street, on the opposite side, swerving side to side like a drunk driver. She almost collided with 3 cyclists and before she disappeared around the bend she bumped up the curb and rode 2 wheels on the pavement!
Yesterday…scary, scary stuff…
I was driving into Cambridge and had to slow to 40mph to pass through a village. On the way out, and before the national speed limit applies sign, I became aware that the white mini-bus that had followed me was coming up very fast behind me. Too fast. He swung out across the road and overtook me, I managed to see an old man hunched over the steering wheel – he looked like a corpse. What shocked me was the Dial-A-Ride logo on the side of the mini-bus, this is a service for pensioners to take them shopping or whatever.
I slowed up a little to let him pass. It was a country road, quite wide in that particular area with big grass verges. I figured he would pass me and I’d let him get some distance. I’ve got a funny feeling he wasn’t aware of how far ahead of me he wasn’t because as he drew alongside of my car he suddenly swerved left toward me! I had to break sharply but he kept on coming. In seconds he had pushed me off the road and I had to break fast onto the grass verge.
The mini-bus corpse driver totally failed to judge his distance from me and his speed. And he just drove off. If he had been over taking another old person with reduced reaction times it could have resulted in a nasty accident. Or if he had decided to over take further back in the village…well, death and chaos would be the result.
Today…grinning old fool…
I was leaving a multi-storey car park in town this morning when another old aged idiot nearly caused a whole range of accidents. She backed out of her parking space so fast she nearly hit me. I was waiting for her to pull out, left her more than enough distance to do her thing but again I’m sure she had no idea I was even there.
I followed her through the car park to the exit. On her way the old biddy nearly hit a baby buggy and received an entire string of curses from the alarmed mother. At the turning out of the exit the amazing old fool bumped the curb, knocked over a bin and dragged it along the ground until she bumped back onto the road and drove off.
Independence v Safety.
In fairness I can see how having a car for an old person can give them an element of independence. There are many pensioners who simply aren’t mobile enough to drive a car and stay at home watching TV or staring out of the window waiting. My argument isn’t about forcing all old people off the roads but making sure those that hold a licence are as capable as the rest of us.
In the UK the theory test and practical test have changed again since I took them last year, it shows how out of touch old people can be. I just don’t like the idea of anyone holding a licence for a machine capable of causing so much damage without having all their abilities properly tested.
Take a 70 year old driver, they may have passed their test sometime in the 60’s! Now think of the vast difference in vehicle technology, road conditions, laws and the sheer volume of cars on the road today compared to the swinging sixties! We should all be worried!
There must be statistics that show how reaction time and observation ability decrease with age. It stands to reason that cognitive function reduces with age, and it’s not necessarily illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s that prove mental capacity is failing. Old age brings with it an entire set of factors that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely, yet every day I see old people causing problems and accidents simply because they are old. This isn’t a case of being ageist, it’s making the point that age impacts on everything in life.
When I reach old age I’d rather be tested and be considered fit to drive than bumble my way along the roads, grinning like everything is fine and waiting for the accident to happen.