Elderly Drivers – Use Two Pillows And Stay Alert!
This year approximately four million drivers over the age of 65 will take to roads and highways in Canada - the highest number in history. Statistics Canada arrived at that number by using satellite imagery and global positioning devices to reveal four million cars being driven very slowly with the left blinker still on.
According to accident statistics, seniors are the most collision-prone drivers on the road today. The good news is, people seldom get hurt in those accidents because they drive so &%*!’in’ slow ... particularly while I’m driving behind them! We don’t need maximum speed limits anymore; we need minimum speed limits so your car doesn’t stall out while you’re trapped behind an 80-year old driver. On quick trips around town, there have been times I’d wished I brought a packed lunch. (And yes, I have been tempted to lean on the horn but then I’m afraid I’d wake somebody up!)
If you look at the higher accident rates of senior citizens you can’t help but come to the conclusion that the difference between a good driver and a bad driver is approximately 40 years. This doesn’t make sense to me. People in their 80s and 90s have less time left in life than young drivers. Wouldn’t you think they’d drive faster?
Elderly drivers bring with them a whole set of unique problems. Like ...
He: “Damn, for a moment there I forgot which pedal was the brake!”
She: “That’s not a problem, Dear. Your car keys are still in the house.”
Or He: “Damn, this turn signal will not shut off.”
She: “Actually Dear, that’s your pacemaker; the battery must be low again.”
That and the even more disturbing conversation when the wife calls the old guy on his cell while he’s on the freeway and tells him it’s all over the news that some lunatic is out there going the wrong way on the same thruway. And his response is: “One? Hell, there’s hundreds of them coming at me!”
Some of the common problems senior drivers face are easily remedied. For instance, if you find yourself pulling over all the time in order to clean bird poop off your windshield, seagulls may not be your problem. Try giving your glasses a good cleaning before you leave home.
Similarly, if you find yourself constantly swerving to avoid a tree in the middle of the road, it might be more of an optical illusion. In fact it might just be that scented pine cone hanging from the rear-view mirror. Get rid of it.
And speeding to your destination is unacceptable even if you’re trying to get there before you forget where it is. Go slow, drive around for awhile, maybe it’ll come to you.
And if you’re having your licence renewed with the testing guy in the passenger seat and due to a sudden dizzy spell you mistake a stop sign for a deer, but then the transport official compliments you on coming to a full stop in front of the stop sign… don’t mention the ‘deer thing.’
All this reminds me of that old joke in which a group of very, very senior citizens are sitting around a retirement home in Florida complaining about their leg cramps, memory blanks, heart palpitations, blurred vision, frequent blackouts and the occasional seizure until one of them reminds them of the silver lining in the story. “Well, at least we can all still drive.”
Distractions? I’ll be honest with you, I’m just a decade away from that mandatory renewal test and I frequently find myself sitting in the driver’s seat of my Subaru trying to order coffee at the Tim Hortons drive-thru by speaking into the garbage bin. And then louder when I get no response. And finally: “Damn kids today!”
For comments and ideas, or a copy of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca