Should old people be allowed to drive?

posted in: Rants and Whinges | 0

Maybe this could be a bit of a contentious issue but here goes anyway:

As per the title really.  I’ve often seen evidence that confirms my view that drivers of a certain age should be discouraged from driving, but yesterday that evidence came up and smacked me in the bumper.  Well, smacked my car actually but you get the point.

I had parked outside the doctors for 5 minutes before they closed to collect a prescription, I left H and both boys in the car.  When I got back, I’m told I now have a dent in my bumper caused by an old lady reversing out of a parking space.  H says she got in her car and came flying back without looking, although she insisted that she did look but didn’t see our car there.

She would have had to be virtually blind to have missed my car, it’s a bloody great big Land Rover Discovery in bright blue.  It’s not as if I had parked so close she couldn’t get out of her space.  There was a good 20-25 feet between my car and her space and the lady wasn’t driving a Winnebago. (FYI it was a Fiesta)

Maybe the lady in question had just received some bad news and was distracted?  Maybe the sun was glinting off my paintwork and it temporarily blinded her?  Or maybe the old dear shouldn’t be out on the road in the first place?

I believe that drivers need to have a retest at 70.  I don’t believe that goes far enough really, I think there should be compulsory re-testing every year from age 60.  This would have 3 distinct advantages:

1) It would weed out the truly atrocious drivers who really ought to just get a bus pass and have done with it
2) It would free up the roads for other drivers who do actually have the ability to use a mirror
3) It could have saved me from having a dented bumper

I’m sure that the silver haired brigade will be out telling me that old people have a right to be out on the road, that they value their freedom etc etc and I do sympathise.  The public transport system is woefully inadequate at best and pitiful at worst, but the fact of the matter is this: Young drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident but older drivers are more likely to be the cause of an accident.

We all know stories of people driving around with severe cataracts because it never occured to them that they were no longer safe to drive, or that they didn’t see why they should give up their freedom.  I know for a fact that if either my Mum or Mother-in-law were retested they would both fail miserably.  My Mother-in-law’s attitude at being caught speeding doing 82 was “but I can go much faster than that” and my own dear mother managed to smash her own wingmirror to smithereens by smacking into our wheely bin on our drive.  She said she didn’t see it – she was going forwards at the time.

What do you think?  Should old people be allowed to drive?  Should they have regular retesting?  Will I have a change of heart once I start drawing my pension?!

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