Academic journal article Generations

Past 90, and Still on the Road

Academic journal article Generations

Past 90, and Still on the Road

Article excerpt

Everyone around town knows me as the old lady with the red convertible. I don't mind. My red convertible, and before that the black one, and earlier the station wagonthey are all part of my life. But as with other things, and people, our relationship has changed.

I've been thinking about this more since I recently read about the 86-year-old man who plowed his car into a farmer's market in California, killing ten and injuring dozens. I was troubled by this accident. But I am also saddened that it has led to general criticism of elderly drivers. How many times have we heard people say: "Old people shouldn't be driving"?

They may be right. Of course, many people on the road shouldn't be there either, teenagers and others. But since it's old people we're talking about, we should remember that they are not alike.The one thing I hope we do have in common, though, is a sense of responsibility. We, more than teenagers (and I hold parents responsible if their sons and daughters are reckless drivers), are responsible for what we do.

No one knows better than the driver if he or she is quick, confident, and capable on the road. You know better than anyone if your eyes are fading, if you're having a little trouble reading; you know if your reactions are slow, or if your spatial judgment is unreliable. But giving up a car means giving up a good hunk of independence and freedom of movement (especially since our public transportation system is inferior to that of some third-world countries). That's why many older people are inclined to fool themselves and keep driving when they shouldn't.

It's also why we need a safety net. I've always assumed that was the state department of motor vehicles, so I was surprised when I went to get my license renewed a few weeks ago and no one paid any attention to my birth date, which was a long time ago. (I'm in my pos. …

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