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When will we say enough is enough? How old do you have to be to become a dangerous driver?

Updated on February 12, 2013

I am listing this under the Human Rights area of Hubpages, but to be honest, I do not know where it belongs. All I can say is that I am angry, seriously angry. Not at anyone in particular, because this hits home to everyone in America; but the implications will not sink in until it happens either to you, or to someone you know, work with, love, or are involved with in some manner.

I will state right off that I know, in no uncertain terms, that I am going to offend somebody, to which I am saying I do not care! The time to stop soft pedaling this issue is long past, and we need to do something to the population at large. Here it is: if you have reached an age where you are no longer a safe driver, you deserve to lose your driver's license!!!

Perhaps it isn't even an age thing. Perhaps it is just an ability issue that can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere in America today. But I am focusing on these eldery drivers because of what our community is faced with today. First I will list what just a few moments worth of searching uncovered in this area.

Florida - 93 yr old man suffering from dementia struck a pedestrian and drove through a toll booth with the man on his windshield. The pedestrian’s leg was severed in the incident. All drivers over the age of 80 in Florida must pass a vision test before having their license renewed, but no driving test is required.

California – 87 yr old man strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk and kills him. Driver advises he did not see the pedestrian before striking him.

Massachusetts – 71 yr old man’s car jumps the curb and strikes a woman on the sidewalk, killing her. A child walking on the sidewalk was also injured.

Massachusetts - 7 year old Herbert Whitaker of Halifax was killed when he was crossing the street with his father and was hit by a car driven by a 76 year old. On July 12th, Richard Kelly, 55 from Pelham, New Hampshire, died when his 2005 Harley-Davidson motorcycle was struck by an elderly driver. In June, 4 year old Diya Patel was killed as she was crossing the street in Stoughton and was hit by an 86 year old driver.

California – 75 yr old woman hits a fellow senior citizen in a retirement community and kills her.

After that introduction, I will give you what our community faces right now.On Saturday, January 12, 2013 a 75 year old woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma somehow ended up in the Eastbound lane of I44 near Sarcoxie, Missouri and struck a family head on, killing her and the father of the family virtually instantly. In addition, the mother is fighting for her life; the 19 year old daughter is in a medically induced coma, suffering loss of feeling in her legs among other serious internal injuries; the 13 year old daughter had traumatic head injuries which have required doctors to remove part of her skull to ease brain swelling and is also in a medically induced coma; the 12 year old daughter has a crushed pelvis and a collapsed lung, among other serious injuries. All of this mayhem and heartache because an elderly woman could not tell which road she was turning onto, and was unable to realize she was on an interstate highway traveling against traffic moving at 70 miles per hour. How much more of a hint do you need to know you are a danger to others?

Drivers with a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) who drive trucks carrying products all over the country; who drive school buses carrying our children; who drive in our cities as dump truck drivers or trash truck operators are all bound by the same law: on and forever after your 71st birthday they will take a driver's test with a Highway Patrol Officer to determine if they are still able to safely drive on our city streets and highways. Why do we not call, scream, demand the same of everyday drivers operating their personal vehicles?

I'll tell you why: because there are so many people of this age who are active in politics, and see this driving ability as their God given right, and not as a privilege. People, it IS a privilege; it is not a right. If you are unable to see, to hear, to react, to acknowledge situations are beyond your ability then you should lose your license to operate a vehicle. I understand there are few ways to get about in a large amount of towns and cities across our country, but is it worth killing someone? Really?

An insurance company here in town told my wife and I once that whenever the weather is at its worst, elderly people will come in on those days to pay their premiums, rather than waiting or mailing them in. When I worked in retail, I saw firsthand this portion of the citizenry come in on the absolute worst days, whether it was snow, or ice, or torrential downpours. It was as if they were out to prove they still had the ability to drive in these situations.

I am not an old person hater. Hell, I am almost one myself! But I see it all too often on the news where some elderly person has not hit the brake but rather hit the accelerator and run into a building, injuring or killing someone there; or run into a group of people, maiming several before finally stopping their car. When is enough enough?

I hesitate to say this, but we have people walking into movie theaters or schools or malls, opening fire on innocent civilians and killing them senselessly. But is an elderly person driving the wrong way on a highway any less a tragedy? One person dead and four others in serious condition, all because they "thought" themselves capable of driving a machine capable of so much death. You tell me: is one life worth your driving to the store to get bread and milk?

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    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Mr Archer, thank you for writing this and for feeling so strongly about it. I am sorry for the loss in your community. My Dad is 82 and we, my brother and I, just took the keys to his car away. I think families share the burden of responsibility in this situation. When it is so painfully obvious that someone has lost their ability to react quickly, to see well, or to use good judgment, it is time for families to act responsibly. My Dad has a perfect driving record. He has been driving for over 60 years. He has Alzheimer's and macular degeneration. It was hard, painfully hard to tell lhim he can't drive anymore. He was angry and hurt. But, when I was a teenager, he protected me from situations that I was ill prepared to handle, even when I didn't like it. I owe him the same love and respect. I did not want my father to get hurt or to hurt someone else after so many years of driving carefully. All the explaining did not make him accept our decision so we literally stole the keys from him. I stand with you and if anyone is offended by this, so be it.

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, dear lady. I too understand this hesitancy to remove a vestige of our parent's freedom. It is a very difficult decision, but what you say about our parents protecting us from situations we do not understand when we were younger is exactly right. What a wonderful example! I wish I'd thought of it. Thank you for doing what needed to be done. My school district is so saddened by the loss of one of our family members. These children have been carried to and from school for the entirity of their lives; the parents were always at the stop for their children every day. My driver spoke with them often; even lives near them and knows the family personally. We are all feeling the loss.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, I agree completely, and that's coming from a 64 yr old who will one day face this decision. Hopefully I am wise enough to make the right decision; if not, Bev will make it for me.

      You should be angry; we all should be angry!

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      I am not that far behind you, Bill. And when that day comes (not if), I will hand my keys over, as well. Tina will do the same for me as Bev for you, should the need arise and I do not see my limitations. Anytime we lose a life so young, or cripple a family such as this one has been, it is a waste, it is an outrage, and it is criminal in the same manner that losing a life to a madman who suddenly decides to take a gun into a crowded location and take someone else's life. Thank you for the read and comment; I welcome both. Take care, my friend.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a very good hub. Age is not the only reason to remove a driver's license. Sometimes medical issues are. I have epilepsy, and my seizures became so bad, I had to give up driving. After having surgery in Sept. 2010 I have had no seizures. I live in Ohio so I had to take the entire driver's license test again. Even the written part. But, I can drive again. I drive very carefully, but I agree with the epilepsy law in Ohio when it comes to driving.

      No one should lose a life when it comes to driving accidents due to age or a medical condition.

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, Michele. Reasons for suspension of license can be many and varied. I am glad you have regained that portion of your life. Congradualtions. Whether it be physical ailments, mental ailments, texting, drinking, or any other incident which affects your ability to concentrate on driving, no one person deserves to play Russian Routlette with another person's life. At some point, the bullet will line up, and someone will die. You take care, Michele. Good luck.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thank you for sharing this eye opening and informative hub. You are so right there are people at an old age who are just not capable of driving anymore and still do it and as a result kill or cripple innocent children and people. Everyone must be made aware of this problem. Passing this on.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Gypsy Rose Lee, thank you for your comments. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is the right thing. I am sorry if someone has reached a point in their life where they are unable to drive, for whatever reason, but your freedom to drive does not trump another person's right to life. Thanks so much for the passing on; I appreciate every one of these I get.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is a serious responsibility and must be earned and maintained. A moving vehicle is a weapon in the hands of incompetence. The elderly suffering with dementia no longer have the ability to ascertain their level of competence. If blame is to laid, it belongs with those who are aware of a dementia victim and doing nothing. In the act of not acting because one doesn't want to get involved, they are negligent in preventing an accident waiting to happen, and become enabling accessories.

      Here in St. Louis, a young man who got into an argument at a gathering where drinking was involved, stole the keys to a vehicle in the driveway, tore out in anger and ran into a home, where an 71 year old long time neighbor resided. The man was killed as he sat in his favorite chair with his cat in his own living room. The irresponsible, out of control young man ran from the scene of the accident he caused and was found in the parking lot of a bar down the street.

      I agree with you 100%, Mr. Archer, on the prevalent problem of accidents caused by the elderly, who should no longer be driving. Just like the lack of due diligence with gun ownership, driving privileges and most laws designed to protect the innocent, there are too many exceptions and dispensations depending on who one knows or how much money changes hands. As Americans see the business of politics at the top in action, we see that corruption rules. Until that changes, and citizens take the bull by the horns for themselves, we will continue to see horrific accidents that should never happen. The life-altering problems created by impaired drivers, be it dementia, drunk or drugged drivers, texting drivers or those with a history of mental illness, including road rage, need to have their driver's licenses revoked immediately. Instead, the offenders pay a lawyer and serve no jail time and resume business as usual. Money talks and there is little that cannot be bought.

      My mother relinguished her license when we knew she was a danger to herself and the public (before anything happened), though she passed the test. I am more than willing and take her wherever she needs to go. Though it is sometimes difficult, I know this is the right thing to do, so I do it gladly. However, there are many elderly with few resources. Communities need to step up to the plate and help the elderly. In this way, we are truly helping everyone.

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Well said, Amy!! I applaud those who take the initiative such as yourself, and help those who should not be driving. The alcohol companies advertise "Don't Drink and Drive" campaigns; why can't we advertise "Don't Drive if you're Impaired In Any Way"? How many innocents must be slaughtered before we take control of the situation? Thank you for your excellant comment.

      As a side point, the family who was involved in the accident were on their way to St Louis to take their 19 year old daughter back to school at a college there. She went to school in your city.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      To think that a lifetime of plans, sacrifices and hopes were gone in an instant when this family was descimated by this unnecessary life-altering event is a heartbreak that must stop today, not 10 years from now. We can't wait for an act of Congress. We must all do our part, extend a hand, and take the impaired out from behind the wheel. It is possible and it is imperative. Thank you, Mr. Archer.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, Amy.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Mr. Archer - I commend you for writing this piece. As you stated in the beginning, it will probably offend many but you wrote it any way and that says quite a bit about your awesome character.

      I find in uncanny that you post this now as it has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late. My Mom, who is also one of my best friends still drives. She is an outstanding driver and I know this because I make it a point to ride with her at one point each week. However, it will be a hallow and sad day when I must ask for the keys. Although it will thoroughly break my heart, I would rather feel this than know she was the cause of someone perishing.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, Miss Becky. I always welcome your thoughts. I feel for you, for I understand exactly how you feel on this subject. The time will come to all of us when we become more of a hazard that a help, and that day is hard to face. I know you will make a good decision when the time comes. And I know your mother sees you as this type of person, as well: one who cares and does their best for all concerned. Take care, young lady.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Very valid and important point you made, my friend. As with everything in life, we too shall face this fork int he road as well.

      Always a pleasure to walk the road of friendship with you.

      And as they used to say on Hill Street Blues...."Be careful out there". (now I am really showing my age, huh?) At least I didn't reference Doby Gillis .....

      Enjoy your day.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I agree with you completely! I had to take my mom's keys away from her some years ago. She had cancer surgery to her neck and couldn't turn her head. Her reflexes were very slow and she was on medication. She was angry and hurt at first, but I explained things to her and told her that once she was better she would be able to drive again. (She was not going to get better, but this gave her some hope and something to look forward to.) I agree that there should be a vision test and a driving test for anyone over a certain age. Prior to that age, if the family agrees, it should be their responsibility to "take away the keys". Voted up and useful! :)

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, Ms. Brown! This will become more and more common as the generation known collectively as "The Baby Boomers" age in our country. It is on the rise as we speak, and will only contune to climb as the average age limit to human life continues to rise. Sometimes, living longer may not mean a longer, quality life; rather it just could mean we live longer, but at a cost. Thank you for the read and comment. Take care!

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