Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Slowing Down is Part of Mature Motorists’ Manual

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 By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

The “get ’em off the road” gang is after aging drivers again.

This happens every time anyone behind the wheel 75 or older gets into an accident. The more major the mishap, the more media coverage, and the louder the argument about yanking all silver-haired vehicle operators off the road.

Take away their licenses. Test them every year. Give ‘em a walker and let ‘em go.

They point to statistics that confirm their claim that senior drivers are the second-most accident-prone segment of American’s motoring public. That may be, but the single-most road-risky group are teen-aged drivers and no one suggests taking away their licenses when a group of teens are killed or maimed when their overloaded vehicle rolls over or smashes into another.

Detractors of senior drivers suggest taking driving licenses away at a certain age. How about holding back drivers’ licenses to young people until they reach a certain age? Neither of these suggestions make sense. Just as there is a majority of older drivers who pose no hazard on the road, the same is true of teen drivers.

So age is not the problem.

The problem is common sense and competence behind the wheel.

It’s been estimated that more than 20 percent – that’s one out of five – of the nation’s drivers will be older than 65 by 2030. Results of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study indicate that most — not all, most —  older drivers limit or stop driving as they perceive their capabilities diminishing.

About 70 percent of more than 3,800 50-years-and-older drivers queried said they restricted their driving in a variety of ways. These included bad weather, heavy traffic, rush hour, at night, long distances, and freeways. Older drivers apparently develop strategies to compensate for failing vision, slower reflexes, stiffer joints, and medication, according to researchers. One thing they discovered was that older drivers are more at risk for injury to themselves as they grow fragile with age.

The transportation needs of some 70 percent of the people in this country who live in the suburbs or rural areas are a major hurdle to such simple solutions as yanking seniors out of their cars and forcing them into buses, subways, trolleys, and trains.

It’s also been proclaimed that the cost of car payments, auto insurance, fuel, upkeep, and maintenance can buy a lot of taxi-cab rides. But that alternative is not always available.

Pundits, politicians, and protestors are finding some common ground on mandating regular testing for drivers past a certain age. Older drivers can help their cause by supporting physical improvements such as signs that are larger and less complex, improved lighting and enhanced visibility at intersections, and remedial-driving programs.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 9, 2012 at 12:05 am

Posted in Health, Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

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