Road R-Age

by Chika

I guess this was the result of my seeing an incident near my home a couple of days ago. What happened was that an old guy in a small hatchback decided to drive across a pedestrian crossing before it was actually clear of pedestrians. Luckily, the person he almost hit was unhurt, but was he furious! He hit out at the car to get him to stop and delivered a diatribe to the driver, regardless of the fact that there was a queue of traffic wanting to get past, though if I were to venture a guess, most of the drivers probably had sympathy with the pedestrian.

So what is my beef? The roads of this country are jammed up enough without unfit drivers making things worse. However, defining an unfit driver is difficult to say the least. Certainly age is not the only criteria for definition, despite the fact that many insurance companies generalise this way. Let's face it, they have statistics to work from. However, as the quote goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics, and the companies are more interested in their own margins rather than proper road safety (though obviously this is a generalisation in itself).

The problem is that when drivers reach their autumn years, they can suffer all sorts of ailments that, while the person concerned might not regard it as a problem, can make for a dangerous situation. Some conditions can be picked up early, such as blood pressure and other disorders of that type which can show up in a normal physical fitness test. Other problems such as blind spots and reflex problems might not necessarily show up until it is too late. However this is not my main gripe.

My main gripe is where old drivers continue to drive even when they have been proven unfit. Yes, it does happen, and they always have an excuse. "I have to get my pension" "I can't get out otherwise" "There's no other way for me to get about"... and so on. Yes, mobility is a problem for everyone, especially the elderly, but no way can I accept that a person can ignore their ability to drive, or lack of it. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and while mobility for the elderly can be a real problem, driving while unfit is never a solution. Let's be blunt about it, one drivers' unfitness can mean lives at stake; the driver, other road users, pedestrians and so on.

Certainly public transport improvements should be made. It's all very well for me to say "stop", but unless there is a reasonable alternative, the temptation will always be there. However, if you do drive, and you do have a problem that could endanger yourself and others while driving, perhaps you should consider the consequences, and look at the alternatives. It might be you next.

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