Geriatric types

A few posts ago, I ranted about cyclists. Today? The old.

Listen, Methuselah. I empathize with your need to remain independent. You survived a couple world wars. You made it through Black Monday. You carried on through the Dust Bowl. I applaud your tenacity and your gumption. You’ve got moxie. I get it. No one is questioning your survival instinct.

Here’s the thing though…if you’re old enough to remember when the horse and buggy was the major mode of transportation, I’m not so sure you need to be driving your ’78 Cadi on my streets. Seriously.

Now I don’t know about you and this may sound discriminatory and reactionary, but I think we (and I mean ‘we’ as a society) need to pick an age at which the state requires drivers to take a practical driving exam. That means taking your sheepskin seat belt protector and beaded seat rest down to the ‘ol DMV and having the jaded, half a whack job sit in your passenger seat and test your ability to, oh I don’t know, not crash into shit.

Is that ageism (ageist?)? Check it out…don’t care. You want to be fair? No problem. I’m all for making it mandatory every four years. For everyone. You think DMV lines suck now? Just wait. My main bitch about the process? Here’s a personal example…

My Great Grandfather was about 92 years old when he passed. He still had a valid CDL. He had Alzheimer’s. DMV, in their vast wisdom, just kept sending the man a renewed license. HE WAS 92!!!! The man was born around the turn of the blessed century for crying out loud! He had no more business driving a car than I do operating one of those skyscraper cranes (random).

Another example…my Stepdad’s mom (lovely woman, by the by) stopped driving around 90 after a friend got into an accident and got sued. Smart move, right? Absolutely. The amusing part is up until then wherever she went, she had to get there by making right turns. She wasn’t comfortable making a left. !?!? She’d basically have to go four blocks to get one block from her house.

As a Motor, I have the power to issue a Retest Form. It can either be a priority exam or a regular exam. I’m pretty sure I issue more of them than most of the other Officers I work with. Call it a pet peeve. I’ve gotten a couple of folks’ licenses revoked. Not because I’m an a-hole, but because I’m looking out for the general public’s safety.

No one wants to be the heavy and take someone’s freedom from them. But at what cost? How long do we let older drivers drive for? It’s a physiological fact that as we age our perception/reaction time increases and our motor skills decline. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The bottom line is this. If I stop you and your hands are shaking so bad you can barely pull your CDL out of your wallet (and not from nerves), you’re gonna get a retest form. If you’re in your advanced years and I pull you over for a fairly serious traffic violation, you’re gonna get a retest form. If you are the primary responsible party in a traffic collision, you’re gonna get a retest form.

It just occurred to me I have nothing to fear from the old regarding this post. They fear technology and more than likely couldn’t find the Internet if it jumped on their face and wiggled. Besides, Wheel of Fortune is on. You know they’re watching it and not cruising the blogosphere.

Now, you bastards get off my lawn!!!!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

22 thoughts on “Geriatric types

  1. Agreed, MC.
    I think 65 is a good age to start an every 4 year requirement for vision tests and 75 for 2 year driving exams.
    If they can still drive safely, great.
    If not, find a place to live where you can live without a car.
    I expect to be treated the same way when I get older and less able to operate a car.

  2. Oh goodie! When I am old and stupid I will freely give up my driving rights. Oh, and by the way, I will be living in your spare room and will need a lift to absolutely everywhere! I completely agree with your perspective. And, besides, I will enjoy the attention … you hard nosed goofball! Your "old" mother.

  3. My grandfather insisted his motoring skills were not impaired, even when he was in his eighties. One day, however, he single-handedly invented the drive-in shoe store on a trip to town so we took his license away from him. Thankfully no humans were hurt, but countless pairs of wingtips and high heels were cruelly mauled.

  4. Amen! I was hit by an elderly driver going the wrong way down a one way street after he ran a stop sign. My leg was broken in two places. His family pitched a fit when the state took away his license.

  5. My grandma Opal used to be an absolute menace. We were at a family gathering one time when grandma drove up and parallel parked. She slammed into the truck in front of her twice and took out 2 garbage cans behind her.

    Everybody was thrilled when we found out, a few months later, that some Nazi motor was going to make her retest.

    She passed. I am assuming that the examiner didn't want to yank the old bat's ticket. She died well into her 90s. I think they buried her still-valid CDL with her.

  6. I would say I issue a retest form about every 6 weeks to someone here in Burg. MC everything you said is spot on. It's up to us to protect the public from people who don't have the skills to drive, no matter what their age. I have a pile of them in my saddlebag and won't hesitate to issue one on the spot.

    It's not ageism or whatever, it's about public safety.

  7. I can still remember the fear in my father's face when he had to drive his car home from the dealer's and got lost on his way home. And when my mother was hospitalized and he followed my sister home because he no longer knew the way. We took his keys away at that point – he was no longer safe to drive. He now is lost in the oblivion that is Alzheimer's, but he still has a valid driver's license. I agree with testing the elderly but possibly 65 is too early…. perhaps 70 or 75. And if they sell their car, they can get a lot of cab rides for the money they get.

  8. You've stopped… "the little old lady from pasadena!!!" LOL ok that was a lame joke.

    But seriously, can you also be on the look out for people who dont take the safety of our children seriously?

    I know several school bus drivers who practice some unsafe driving methods (tailgating, speeding, improper merging etc) while hauling children…. but for some reason we dont get stopped for doing wrong…

  9. This reminds me of an old joke.

    An elderly lady is watch a news story of a wrong way driver on the freeway. She calls her husband to warn him of the danger.
    He response, "Hunny, not just one wrong way driver there are hundreds"

  10. Is there anything that a family can do to try to get their elderly family member's license revoked?

  11. I work with the elderly, and it seems like if the eye doctor doesn't request their license be revoked, they keep right on driving. And even that depends on the eye doctor. One woman I know suddenly developed macular degeneration. Her eye doctor ASSumed she had the intelligence to stop driving, but even after they declared her legally blind, she was driving with her daughter or GRANDCHILDREN in the car to help guide her. Every time I mentioned that she should stop driving, she'd say, "Oh, I know. I can't see a thing until I'm right on top of it."

    But then you have to deal with idiots like my S-I-L. The eye dr. took my F-I-L's license away because of the same eye disease, and she took him to an eye doctor they were friends with and got it back. Can't help the stupid.

  12. I want to be a cop now… I didn't know you could issue a "Retest Cert" That's the BEST!

  13. I have heard a lot of stories about elderly parents holding on to their Driver's License way too long as if it is a Certificate of Life. A good part of this could be the California car culture, where getting your Driver's License is a Right of Passage into the eventual adult pathway. I grew up in New York City in the 50's and 60's and cars and Driver Licenses just were not that big of deal emotionally for the elderly and much less so for the youth. After all you got around quite well without a car.

    I think that a reliable mass transit will take the pressure off of elders who hold on to these DL's way too long.

    Makes sense to test people every few years after 60 or so, or even every five to ten years during the earlier period unless spurred on by things such as accidents. Accidents should lead to a near mandatory eye and basic testing.

    However, I wonder what this would cost for the 20-60 year set? I think we have to try to test for those over 65 but who is going to pay for it? Are we going to force the seniors to not only take a test every 4 years but also to pay some fee such as $100 for each testing?

    Interesting how no good idea comes without a cost.

  14. I think most of us that are reasonable and sane agree that elderly drivers should be tested every so often to ensure that they retain adequate skills to drive safely on public roads. The reality however is this–the population of CA is getting older, and groups like AARP are already powerful and getting more powerful as time goes on. Seniors 50 and up tend to vote more than younger ones do, and politicians will cave in to get their votes, so regular testing will never happen….it's a pipe dream.

    The best you have is MC and others like myself have to observe an egregious violation or go to an accident where the damage has already occurred to make them get re-tested. Unfortunately, in most cases someone has already been injured, killed, or massive property damage has already taken place.

  15. I'm with Alex- how do we rat them out? I'll do some reasearch tomorrow and report back, as long as MC agrees to post my responds on the front page 😉

  16. Thank you! (And well said…) As a home health nurse, I used to take care of an ancient old man who had caused an accident in which his companion was killed. The companion's son sued him and won, with the provision that the oldster lose his driver's license.

    And he bitched about it every single time I saw him—even AFTER he had killed somebody!! And I was seeing him in his nursing home for breaking his ribs while trying to reach for a TV guide….

  17. And lately I see the elderly driving 20 miles below the speed limit with a cell phone to their ear, trying to figure out where they are going. I've seen this on more than on occasion and even on the freeyway. (I really don't know what they are talking about on their cell but I can only imagine they're trying to find where they are going.)

  18. When I was 16 and getting my license, my dad would say things to me like, "when I die, i want to die in my sleep like my grandfather did, not screaming like the people in his car".

    I agree with everything you said. Some geriatric types are as sharp as a tack until the day they die at 100 years old, or they "go" much sooner in their 60s. I think it would be wise to have vision and/or diving exams after age 65 like Happy Medic said.

    I studied gerontology in college, and I have a soft spot for the oldie goldies, but they definitely go through a lot of physical changes in their later years that should cause anyone to be alarmed when driving.

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