As an 80-year-old burdened by excessive insurance costs – the consequence of bad driving by all age groups – I agree with letter-writer Marilena Young that the situation of elderly drivers needs looking into.
But first of all, it must be recognized that the hit-and-run syndrome exists in all driver categories and is not in any way age-related. It is a reflection of the low ethics prevailing across our modern society.
Concerning elderly drivers, two principal areas of concern are apparent.
First, inadequate attention.
It is noticeable that some older drivers, apparently because of inability or even unwillingness, will not turn their head in order to look sideways or backwards – and, of course, this is crucial to backing up.
In fact, many drivers of all ages rely entirely on mirrors, which at best give only a restricted view and faulty depth perception. Contrary to common belief, mirrors should be used only as an aid to backing, never as the primary means.
Second, the current 80-plus medical test.
Not being a test of driving ability at all, it is purely the application of some arcane medical concept in which many of the components have no relationship to driving.
It discriminates against those 80 and older by imposing requirements that no younger driver has to meet.
In short, it fails in its purpose because it does not address the objective, namely actual driving ability, and because it is known to provide a means of banning drivers who are otherwise competent.
As one example, a widowed, healthy old-age pensioner of our acquaintance was forced to sell her car because she failed the 80-year test. Subsequently, she discovered that she was in fact qualified to drive because the test had been modified as being too severe. By then, unfortunately, she could not afford to buy another car and has had to rely on friends and the buses ever since.
Young asks how we should deal with the particular issues. The answer is to do what is logical – focus on an elder’s actual competence to drive, as it is applied to everyone else.
The 80-year test should be scrapped as being ineffective and discriminatory. Instead, the standard driving test should be taken at 80, and possibly every five years thereafter. It makes no sense to burden our already overstressed medical system with an obligation that is a waste of time and money, when the job can be done better by the existing driving test.
Thomas White, White Rock