In my last post I ended with a sarcastic question — after describing the difficult and time-consuming effort an old lady made to climb into her van and drive away from the grocery store. I asked “And she still drives. Isn’t it wonderful?” That was sarcasm, though at least one reader took me seriously and added her praise to the seeming compliment I was paying the old lady.
To be sure the older drivers show an indomitable spirit. And as an older driver myself I can easily understand why no one wants to give up the privilege and independence of driving one’s own car. However, there comes a point where the license should be denied older folks — that point where their presence on the roads poses a danger to others. Let me give you a specific example.
I have a very dear friend who has been blind from birth. His is indeed an indomitable spirit as he refuses to admit that there is anything he cannot do. With another friend he spent one supper re-shingling roofs in the town where they both live. He taught himself to use power tools and regularly repairs clocks. He is a marvel. I posted a blog about him several years ago. But I didn’t mention the following incident.
One day as he was walking home with his beloved dog from the Food Shelf where he volunteers, he stoped at a traffic light to wait for the red light to stop the crossing traffic. The light turned green for those on the street next to him and red for the cross-traffic. He stepped out to cross the road and an old man who had been sitting at the red light made a right turn into him destroying his hearing aids, tearing his minuscule, and hurting his dog — who died from internal injuries a few weeks later.
The man insisted to the police who soon arrived that he had a green light and was perfectly within his rights to turn his car onto the cross-road. Days later, when my friend went to the man’s house to assure him that he was not going to sue him (though he had grounds to do so) the man was still professing his innocence.
So I have little patience with those who think it wonderful that old folks drive a car and I will soon have a painful decision to make myself in this regard if I want to avoid being called a hypocrite.
The problem, of course, is to determine when to deny the older folks the license to drive. The old man in my example swears to this day that he had a perfect right to harm a blind pedestrian and his dog. I dare say he is not willing to give up his license. But should it not be taken away from him — especially after an accident such as this? I simply ask.