So Old, Get Off the Road

Driving Mrs. Dangerous

Driving Mrs. Dangerous

I’ve long been a hater of elderly drivers. It seems like every time I’m stuck behind a slow driver or see a car make some outrageous maneuver on the road, the driver is over 75 years old. Look, it’s not a stereotype if it’s true. Over the past month in the Massachusetts area there have been FIVE severe accidents involving elderly drivers, hitting people in crosswalks, plowing through store fronts and slamming on the gas pedal instead on the brakes. A four-year-old girl just DIED from being hit while crossing the street with her grandfather. This has got to stop. There have been rumblings of legislation and re-testing drivers but maybe now something will actually be done.

Did you know that all you have to do maintain your license for your entire life is pass the exam when you’re in high school, then pass a basic eye exam every couple years? Ridiculous. I think all drivers should be tested every three years with a written exam and in-car driving test, from the time you turn 21. I don’t care if it’s an inconvenience for people. I don’t care if it will cost states millions of dollars. Driving is a privileged, not a right, and only those capable of passing both tests should be allowed on the road. The sense of entitlement that drivers show on the road is the most infuriating. I can’t even count how many times I’ve almost been side swiped by someone who doesn’t know right of way laws or who doesn’t know how to merge on a highway or is yapping away on their cellphone, paying no attention to their surroundings. (This is next on my list. Hands-free cell phones only. Several states already have this law, it should be national. And if you text and drive, you deserve to end up in a Life Star helicopter.) Bad drivers create more traffic, more accidents and more headaches for everyone else in the world. Pass a test every three years. Fail the test and you have to wait 6 months before taking the test again. Get caught driving a car without a valid license, you get hefty fine and community service. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

The biggest arguments I’ve heard is ageism, and that if you take away licenses from the elderly, you’re also taking away their independence. Well, I can refute these in the same breath; it’s not fucking ageism if you are unable to operate a vehicle properly. I don’t care if you’re 85 or 18. If you can’t make left turns or only feel safe driving 30 mph or have no peripheral vision, you should not be driving a car. If I injured my right knee instead of my left, and could barely bend the joint, I would not feel safe driving. It’s pretty logical. Plus, you can’t tell me that a person 70 or older has the same reaction time or reflexes as a person in their twenties. But hey, if you want to prove me wrong, go ahead, take the test. If you pass, I’ll gladly let you go first at a stop sign, but if you fail and I see you just roll on through the intersection, I’ll flick you off and call you a very bad name.

If independence is being able to drive myself to Walmart or the bingo hall when I’m 80, just shoot me now. I hope that I’m not so disillusion when I grow old that I can’t tell when I’m putting others in danger. It’s called family. That’s why you have kids, so they can drive you around and take care of you when you’re old, right?

The point is that these recent incidents with elderly drivers are just a piece of the problem. There are tons of dangerous drivers out there, and it’s a little bit unfair to single out a certain population. If you test everyone, then there’s no problem. It just become routine like changing your car’s oil. It’s a pain, but you do it and move on. There is actually a senator in Mass. is trying to get a law passed to re-test people 85 and older every five years, a bill that once stalled but now has regained traction. It’s a start but how about we lower that at least twenty years earlier, no? I doubt we’ll see anything as drastic as my proposal but at least the state is now talking about the issue. Maybe when a few more people die or get run over, people will start to see how serious a problem this is.

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