Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 16, 2014

GLYNN: It's hard to give up a license

Niagara Gazette — An elderly woman leaving a local restaurant was walking at an agonizingly slow pace toward her parked car. She politely refused any help.

After the obvious difficulty of trying to find her keys, she had a problem starting the car. She ran the wipers, as anyone should on such a wintry day, but there was no attempt to clear off the snow-covered rear window. After nudging the car behind — though that was unnecessary — she then managed to bump the vehicle in front as she pulled away. You don’t like to pass judgment, but it does raise questions on how long a person should insist on keeping a driver’s license.

After scanning countless letters-to-the-editor (in other papers) on the subject, one from a 79-year-old man who has had a driver’s license since age 16 and never involved in a collision offered some pearls of wisdom: “As I have aged, I have noted the slowing of my reflex time and the reduction of my night vision, and have adjusted my driving strategies accordingly. Despite this, I remain concerned about my driving skills and those of my aging contemporaries. “

He adds: “Age alone might not be an accurate mark of the ability to drive safely or a predictor of accident risk. Other factors enter the equation, such as physical and cognitive abilities. We seniors need to prove that we are fit to drive. It seems reasonable to me that to be tested more rigorously and that means more frequently than a 35-year-old. I think I should be required to demonstrate my driving ability to a testing office after taking a written test.”

All of us — young and old — need to be concerned about the recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that shows a dramatic spike in fatal collision rates for drivers 70 and older, with rates peaking for drivers in their mid-80s and older. The report also disclosed that in 2009, 84 percent of the population over the age of 70 were still driving .That compared to 74 percent and older who had licenses in 2000, and 66 percent in 1990.

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