The Rights of the Elderly

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Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:02 am

The grandmother of a friend of mine, who was over 80 years old and couldn't walk without a walker, used to live on top of a hill. Every day she would drive her pick-up truck down the (busy) logging road (easily one of the most dangerous places to drive, apart from rush-hour downtown) to get groceries, and once a week she'd drive 40 miles on a highway to get to the pharmacy in the next town. However, she was an excellent driver (I don't know about now, it's been a couple of years) and I would totally trust her on the road.

My grandmother's friend who she lives with is only 70, and is one of the fittest men (physically and mentally) I know. He's also been driving for years, but he has some kind of eye condition, which, compounded with overcautiousness and poor on-road judgement, makes me want to turn down ride offers from him every time.

So it's unfair to label any age group as "bad drivers", though it's true that as one ages one's chances of losing the critical faculties for driving are higher.

I do agree with Cao Zhi, though, that the best solution is to have mandatory tests every so often for non-seniors, and more often for seniors. Even though the test wouldn't guarantee performance on the road, it could at least mark out those who are incapable of driving safely. And I bet there are many long-time drivers out there who need a test-environment to remind them that seat-belt is the law, and a flashing red light means a stop sign. The problem is, the longer you've been on the road, the more you think you can get away with. Reminders are always good.

By the way, some insurance companies offer a discount as incentive for older people to retake driving lessons. My roommate's parents just recently went through that, and from talking to them I learnt all these things that I either didn't learn from my driving lessons, or have (more likely) forgotten already.
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Unread postby Mega Zarak » Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:30 am

Just to digress a little, what are the findings pertaining to the Santa Monica's incident? Is it a case of manslaughter?

Anyway, from Lady Wu's post, I can see the urgent need for the elderly to drive especially in places where the public transports are not readily available. However, I don't think such a need should compromise the safety of others and hence, it should be regulated in some way.

Question is, how feasible is it to have the elderly drivers take tests? Are the tests going to be as stringent as the normal ones? If so, given the deterioration of the health of most elderly drivers, how many of them can really pass such tests and how can their personal needs be addressed effectively then?
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Unread postby GuangRong » Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:13 am

If I rememeber corectly , in Singapore once you reach a certain age,

to keep your licence you'll have to go peridocially for a check-up to certified you're medically fit to drive.

all drivers should go for regular health screening..

Even young people may have have a Hidden condition which made them unfit to drive ..
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu Jul 24, 2003 6:50 pm

Great Deer wrote:Anyway, from Lady Wu's post, I can see the urgent need for the elderly to drive especially in places where the public transports are not readily available. However, I don't think such a need should compromise the safety of others and hence, it should be regulated in some way.

I was thinking about this after I posted last night, and it seems that the best solution is to have better public transportation. The granny who lives up on a logging road is an extreme case (I think she moved to somewhere more central now), but most seniors do live in town (for better medical facilities generally), and if public transit is convenient they shouldn't have to drive at all (especially since they don't have the time constraints that we youngsters have). However, keeping up public transit has been a continuous problem in the US. With the exception of a few big cities, it seems that public transportation is extremely inadequate or associated with the lower classes.

Most seniors need to drive because they live alone with no one to care for them, and yet they need to get to appointments, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the recreation centre etc. Most of the trips are within the neighbourhood. I believe the majority of car trips can be eliminated if a better (cheaper and more convenient) transportation system is in place. Some cities also have a volunteer service that drives seniors to places (at least the Red Cross in Santa Cruz does), and between the two, senior drivers may be persuaded to stay off the road.
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Unread postby Cao Zhi » Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:31 pm

Great Deer wrote:Question is, how feasible is it to have the elderly drivers take tests? Are the tests going to be as stringent as the normal ones? If so, given the deterioration of the health of most elderly drivers, how many of them can really pass such tests and how can their personal needs be addressed effectively then?


In theory, it should be very feasible. Instead of the questions on the written tests being the same for all drivers, perhaps the tests should be varied, like academic standardized tests are. (ie, there are many hundreds of questions, but the potential driver is only presented fifty or so questions on the examination.) The actual driving test should encompass most if not all aspects of driving. (Ie, test of competency on the highways, in school zones, in residential areas, farm roads, etc)

As far as the elderly's personal needs go, I cannot speak for other countries and their laws, but in America, is not the government's job to ensure that the elderly have transportation from point A to point B (aside from public transportation, much of which is privately owned). The job falls upon private enterprise or the family to do the job.

The two drawbacks that I can see for this plan are; it increases government buerocracy with the ineffciency and waste that buerocracy entails and it places more of a burden on the citizen to get tests every X amount of years.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:40 pm

Great Deer wrote:Just to digress a little, what are the findings pertaining to the Santa Monica's incident? Is it a case of manslaughter?


So far, the driver says he tried to brake but the car didn't stop. I haven't heard how the car checked out, but having heard some rather chilling testimony on that day, and seeing the map of the street, I can safely say that he was driving consciously -- that he was in control of the steering wheel and able to keep himself driving down the middle part of the road after bouncing into market stalls, instead of letting himself crash into one of them and continue onto the sidewalk (and maybe a building, thus coming to a stop). He hit the stalls four or five times, and each time pulled himself back into the middle of the road and kept driving. That, to me, suggest a driver who is competently aware of his surroundings. It's hard to blank out about a gas pedal, but keep steering consciously.


As for public transportation, most cities and counties in the US, from what I am aware of, have Dial-A-Ride programs for seniors, that are either completely free of cost, or are provided at a discounted year-by-year rate. That's not to mention the public bus system which already accomodates for seniors. There's also motorized carts (for those who don't need to go a long distance to store, etc). And the American culture expects, in general, for people to take care of the elderly (I am aware that this is often far from the truth, I am only talking about cultural perceptions).
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