Too old to drive!

By the time my type II diabetic condition was diagnosed I had lost a significant amount of sensation in my feet and although I have never mistakenly held the accelerator to the floor it occurs to me that such a mistake is much more likely for me and others with a similar condition. Driving vehicles that I am not accustomed to can be particularly troubling. And also, driving with dress shoes worsens the situation and I often drive in bare feet on my way to funerals and weddings.

I have a simular problem. I turned my keys over to my wife a and they will remain there unless the doctors come up with a cure. They are working on a new possibility, and I hope I many be the second trial test subject. So far there has only been one.

looks like they may be there very soon, for my problem. I hope so. In any case I know I have not chosen to put other people at risk.

I would love to be driving again. I can legally drive right now and no one is on the door step now, but I know I would be miserable if I did cause someone’s death or serious injury. I feel the pain, but I will not put others at risk, just because I want to drive, and I do want to.

I hope any of you who might be thinking of driving when your driving skills are not what they should be.

I know it will not be easy, but please think about this and make the right decision.

The Problem of a set age to ‘retire’ drivers is rightfully an age discrimination issue. People of all ages may become medically or mentally unable to operate a vehicle safely. IMHO the only solution is for medical evaluations to be done yearly. Commercial drivers already have to meet this standard. Why not all drivers?

True enough, here in VA you have to get a physical every year even if you have mild hypertension.I’m not joking,I can foresee a time when VDOT says you will have a biannual or annual physical when your cholesterol numbers dont suit the Doc(VA slogan-"from now on only the best will drive)-Kevin


It’s not really that cut and dry to say that an arbitrary age limit would be discrimination. We use an arbitrary age for the minimum age to get a driver’s license, even though some young people are mature and responsible enough to drive sooner than the legal age. We also use arbitrary age limits for alcohol consumption, registering for the selective service, etc. To look at every situation on a case-by-case basis is not efficient, or even necessary. We know that once you pass the age of 40, your reflexes start to slow down. This decline accelerates later in life, usually somewhere about the age of 50 or 60. It’s a matter of biology, and it happens to everyone. Heck, many states even have arbitrary age limits for motorcycle helmet laws.

I’m sure an arbitrary age limit would seem unfair to someone who thinks he is a safe driver. I’m sure the responsible 15 year-old who gets good grades and behaves responsibly, but has to wait until he’s 16 to get a learner’s permit, thinks that arbitrary age limit is unfair too.

Fortunately, there is a good compromise available, and it’s been implemented in many locations. Instead of arbitrarily taking away someone’s license at a particular age, we can simply test elderly people more often and more rigorously. That seems fair to me.

Did I mention, Mom, drove her 97 Breeze into Safeway when she was 84. Luckily they replaced the windows for cinderblocks. And luckily she wasn’t hurt (she was then 80#). She’s now 96 and 65#.

Breeze of course was totaled with front end and blown airbags. I am sure that I could’ve made more on parting out that car than what the insurance co paid.

Luckily no one hurt, no damage to Safeway, and we got her out of driving.

I understand the elderly who hold on as long as they can. You can’t go back to riding a bike as you could when you first got your license. It’s only natural to hang on longer then you should. If we were still riding a horse or driving buggies, it wouldn’t be so bad. Eventually, there will be something in a car to keep those incapable from driving. Till then, you’ll just have to share the road with me.

Well, dagosa, I sort of agree, and I’m not really happy to admit it. I don’t know how to measure whether I’m losing my edge behind the wheel, and I do wonder about it from time to time. Mostly I ride a motor scooter around and so I expect I’m more likely to hurt myself than anyone else, but that’s not very comforting.

As long as the people of the US decide that government is the enemy and refuse to pay for needed services, we won’t have the ability to evaluate drivers. I was tested for competence once, almost 50 years ago, by driving around the block and answering a few questions about parking near a corner and distance from a curb. That’s just stupid.

No one is ever taught how to cope with emergencies while driving; blowouts, being sideswiped, dozing off and waking up running down the shoulder, skidding on ice. These things do happen and nearly every driver does the same thing in all these events. They slam on the brakes.

My point is we need driver training and skill testing, not just for teens and seniors, but for everyone.

People age at different rates and staying in good physical condition can also keep your mental awareness up to where it is needed to drive safely. Driver tests as they are done now, have little real world long term relationship to safe driving. A wild, adventuresome teenager can calm down long enough to pass the test until some overconfidence inspiring experience is achieved. A belligerent, stressed, middle age person can behave as required for when that is needed. An old person can do the right things to get by while being watched. The true test is driving performance in the real world over time and this entails more seriously keeping records over a driver’s lifetime with more reluctance to permit forgiveness and forgetfulness of lifetime erratic driving behavior, especially after age 25.

Such a policy of remembering what happened before would encourage drivers who have a tendency to be less than diligent in their driving practices to do their best or else lose their driving permission privilege so as to not become a menace to others. Forgetting and forgiving prior bad behavior gives license to do it again.

Knowing that whatever you ever did wrong in the past while driving will be held against you will make you a more thoughtful driver. People can and do better for whatever reason it takes, aging, experience, maturation or external pressure.

I think you hit the nail on the head. A shortage of officials keeps drivers from being evaluated regularly as they should. Imagine that if once we hit 65 we had to have a road test each time we had license renewal. I know that wouldn’t sit well with most of us but it could be the key.

I listen to a number of number on this forum preach how “all knowing, all seing” and completely aware of our surroundings they are while driving well above the speed limit. No wonder they get upset at older drivers who slow down to the speed limit. I can’t imagine we willingly submitting to a test, let alone voting for someone who did. Imagine too the number of lives that might be saved if we reevaluated everyone. Forget the elderly, there are a good number of us who actually get worse driving as we get more experience. We introduce habits in our driving like speeding , tailgating, texting and aggressiveness that make an oderfarder like me look like a model driver.

I was looking at a science show on public television that discuss how much differently we view the passage of time as we age. We see time pass as much as 2.25 times more than some one in their twenties. There are FEW IF ANT EXCEPTIONS. Imagine how that effects driving where timing affects everything. So, don’t think you are immune as you age. We hopefully compensate, at least by driving the speed limit instead of above and taking as many distractions out of the car as possible.

My dad was in his mid 80s when he gave up driving. He had congestive heart failure and was a little unsteady on his legs, so he voluntarily decided it was time. My mother was 10 years younger and did the driving. She drove well, but always said she would give up driving when she turned 80. My parents moved into a retirement home but she kept the car. Unfortunately she died of a cerebral hemorrhage at 79. I am certain she would have given up the car at age 80.
I am in favor of mandatory testing after a certain age. If I can’t pass the test, I shouldn’t be driving.
We had a family friend that was in his late 80s when he had to take a driving test. He had a manual shift Chevrolet which didn’t have a synchronized first gear. At any rate, he came to a stop sign, double clutched into low and proceeded on through. The examiner didn’t think he made a complete stop, but was probably jealous because he couldn’t double clutch. At any rate, our friend did pass on the second time. He drove competently for several more years before he voluntarily gave up driving. I’ve ridden with people in their late 80s that are very good drivers and ridden with people in their 30s who have no business driving a car. I had a high school classmate who had a difficult time in driver’s education. I had to ride with her years later when she was in her 30s. I was scared just riding across town with her. She started going south in the northbound lane of a 4 lane stretch of road. I had loaned my car to another friend, but my wife was still at work. This former classmate said she would drive me home. I insisted she drop me off at work–no way would I even ride another block with her.

It’s important for children of seniors to discuss driving with their parents when the parents are around 60 to 70. This way, it can be hypothetical, and the parents will be less likely to feel threatened. The adult children should ask their parents when they think seniors in general should give up driving. The children should make notes of what the parents say so that they can remind them of it as the parents become the person that should’t drive anymore. We’ll all be that person if we live long enough. My Father in Law is becoming that person now. He can find his way to any place he has been visiting for many years. But he can’t find anything new. He used to be a good card player. Now he can’t learn any new card game, no matter how trivial it is. It’s not easy to see a bright person lose their faculties, but at least he has his family to take care of him. I’d guess that in the next 5 years he’ll have to give up driving as he nears 90. If Dad and Mom live that long, we’ll get them where they need to go. I hope that we’re as lucky as they are now when we approach 90.

As my children have become adults I have recognized that they will be considerably less well off financially when I pass the age of 70 than I was when my parents and my wife’s parents reached that age. Hopefully there will be no unforeseen costs in the coming years that are beyond my means. I hope to die with my boots on but not sitting under a steering wheel. Again I am reminded that I have not made a living will. Damn…

Sheesh, you guys act like 60 or 70 is old age. I’m just getting started after 40 years of hard labor. Plus I just got the gas credit card back from the kid a few years ago and I’m not about to talk to him about giving up my keys now.

At 60 or 70, we are definitely past mid-life. You are much loser to death than your birth, @Bing. It’s not worth getting worked up over, it’s just a fact of life. Like you, I hope to have many more years of happy living. It does seem like time to start planning for the stage where losing our abilities accelerates.

I dunno. Let’s not push it. My Grandfather was still doing cement work at 80 and driving to the job site just fine. He was German.

I feel certain that the “death panels” will be none too cordial and likely overworked in coming years and so, a “living will” would allow Obama’s merchants of death a few extra minutes to console some troubled senior knowing that I will just as soon cut to the chase. For me a post card would do.

I hope the “death panel” talk is tongue-in-cheek, but in case anyone thinks it’s serious:

One thing I find harder to do at age 71 is to keep up with features that are being built into new cars. I kept an Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon for 33 years–from 1978 to 2011. I did find the controls confusing at first on the newer vehicles we owned in this time period. For example, moving the headlight switch from a pull switch on the dashboard to a twist knob at the end of the turning signal stalk or moving the wiper control from a slide switch on the dashboard to a stalk on the steering column took a while to get used to. One thing that did help until I retired 2 years ago was being assigned different vehicles out of my institution’s motor fleet to drive to conferences. I drove a Nissan Sentra 700 miles to a conference and back and there didn’t seem to be a way to dim the panel lights. The manual was not in the glove compartment. I figured it out after the fact when I bought a 2011 Toyota Sienna–the panel lights are dimmed or brightened by turning the button that is depressed to reset the trip odometer. I tried and tried to pair my cell phone with the Bluetooth system in the Sienna so that I could answer the telephone by pushing the buttons on the steering wheel with no success. I followed the instructions in both the Toyota manual and the manual for my cellphone. Fortunately, when I had the Sienna at the dealership for service, the service writer did it for m for free. It took her 30 seconds, but she did confess that she had worked for Verizon.
It can probably be debated as to whether or not all these new features are an improvement. I still liked the way I started my 1954 Buick–flipped the switch from either “lock” or “off” to “on” and then stepped on the accelerator pedal. However, as a geezer, I think it is important to keep up with modern technology in vehicles and not get set in my ways by driving newer cars and getting a feel for the controls.

@Bing, what a coincidence, my FIL is German, too. He was born in a tiny little farm town between Hamburg and Bremen.

I’m not pushing anything. You and I and everyone on this board will die sometime. Most of us have a lot of time left because of great medical care. Be happy for what you have and don’t miss it too much when it’s gone. Joseph Campbell spoke about growing old (and other things) on PBS. The conversations were very interesting. Anyway, don’t obsess on it. You can’t be your usual happy self and do that.