Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Automotive Geriatric

     This is a touchy subject. In some places (like South Florida, where I grew up), this is more controversial than abortion, social security, or even hanging chads. Old people driving. Here in Atlanta, this is a total non-issue. Although considering the horrible state of traffic, you would think politicians would be thinking of ways to get more drivers off the roads.
     Dave's blog touched on old people a couple of weeks ago, but a study from the University of Utah, an article in the Washington Post, and a brief analysis by Slate (scroll to Feb 3) made some interesting points. Basically, they found that drivers aged 18 to 25 drive as badly as a 70-year old when talking on a cell phone. That's a pretty bad indictment of using cellphones while driving, and studies like this are causing various local and state governments to ban cellphone use while driving. Slate's point was that if driving like a 70-year old is bad enough to enact a law banning it, why are we allowing 70-year olds to drive??
     You can muddle the issue all you want by ignoring the realities on the ground and saying that older people need the freedom of a car too, that especially in cities that don't have the mass transit capabilities of say New York, the only way to get around is by car. That's hardly a compelling argument - a 15 year old might say the same thing, as would his or her parents who have to shlep the kid around. Poor people who can't afford cars have a better argument. In fact, if driving is such a necessity that it's more important than having safe roads, maybe we should be distributing cars to the people who need them the most. Does anyone really argue the right of a serial drunk driver to retain his license? Even alcoholics need to get to work and the grocery store, not to mention the liquor store.
     At the very least, require annual eye tests and reflex testing to seniors. As amusing as they are, I'm tired of hearing stories of elderly confused drivers tearing through sidewalk markets.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Hey Scott. Couldn't find a link to email you directly. I'm responding to something you wrote on my blog, about how Brett Hume misrepresented FDR's comments on SS. More reaearch has turned up a real gem. Hume didn't misrepresent anyone. Franken and whoever else attacked Hume misrepresented what Hume said. What he said was that FDR wanted to implement private accounts as an add-on to SS, not that he wanted to replace SS with them. So Franken and friends did exactly what they accused Hume of doing (which he was innocent of).