Getting the ‘old Coots’ off the road.


One of the objectives of this diary is to explore ‘human’ issues that deal with families. Busting myths is another and today we want to talk about the ‘myth’ that all we need to do is get the ‘old coots’ off the road so the young folks can drive faster.

All of us have heard those in their teens, twenties, thirties, and upward say that ‘old people shouldn’t be driving because they “kill too many people”. That biased statement has always infuriated me even when I was very young. It is just a stupid statement and people who would otherwise call themselves ‘liberal’ would go along with it without even challenging it. It is hard to find good data but those who want to ‘prove their point’ always rush gleefully to Florida. Florida is a haven of seniors so they attempt to make a point that seniors are more dangerous. Then they proceed to make it in an area where if virtually anyone has a wreck they are probably over 50 (depending on your definition of senior) and would fall into that category. If Florida were filled with teenagers, it is almost certain there would be as many or more wrecks, so the effort to ‘prove the point’ is moot. The major difference would be that the teenagers have mom and dad to buy them out so the insurance won’t go up.

Now if you ‘think hard’ it won’t take long for you to recall the deadly wrecks that you hear on the news every day and very few of those are seniors. Yet, if one senior has an accident it is picked up by the media and the networks run it and everyone points a finger with the ‘See I told you so. Get the old coots off the road and we won’t have so many fatalities.’

Last summer I was driving down the road, turned my signal light on and wham I was rear-ended. Just to make sure he got me good, he hit me from the rear the second time (he said he missed the breaks). If you use the ‘over 50’ definition, I’m an ‘old coot’ and I looked in the rear view mirror and yep, there was two teenage boys in mom’s SUV. So, I got out and looked at my car and there was quite a bit of damage (around $2500) we learned later. The first thing this well-trained ‘dodger’ asked was ‘Did you signal?’ ‘I certainly did. Let’s not go there. I signaled further than required.’ So, he said ‘You probably did, I wasn’t looking.’ I said ‘Where were you going?’ and he answered that they were heading home after having been to Best Buy looking at CD’s. Then he got honest and said he wasn’t paying attention as he should have been since they were having fun talking about the CD’s they’d seen. Soon we got to the issue of not calling the police. He called his mother and she said they would pay. However, I had a risk if I didn’t call the police. Since I was only a couple blocks from home I called my husband to come up and see the accident since I felt I needed a witness. We gave the kid a break and his parents paid promptly, but I kept thinking that there was one less teenage accident on the books and if it were a senior citizen there wouldn’t have been the parents rushing to bail them out.

Let’s explore further what it is that the ‘young and restless’ objects to and how valid their objections are. One of the things you hear most often is ‘they drive too slow’. Wow! Driving too slow isn’t deadly unless some young thing drives up behind them while text messaging and rams them in the rear. Then, it may become deadly, but it wasn’t the ‘driving too slow’ it was the careless driving and probably speeding. Then, you hear ‘They’re retired, where the hell do they need to go?’ Well, they certainly aren’t rushing to the store to buy CD’s, but they may very well be going to the grocery store to buy something to eat, or to the pharmacy to buy medicine for their illness, or even to the hospital where they volunteer to help the parents of young people who were in the latest crash. Then you hear the ‘ultimate weapon’. “We need to get the old coots off the road. They don’t need to be driving.” Really! How wonderfully brilliant you are. If they don’t need to go to the grocery, store and wherever else they want or need to drive, what gave you the ultimate authority to make that proclamation? These are the same people who paid for the roads you speed on. These are the people who paid taxes for 40,50,60 years and literally footed the bills. Now you want them off the roads so you can go faster! Give me a break!

When that one doesn’t work you hear ‘Why don’t they get their children to do it for them?” Now, that one shows extreme immaturity. That shows you don’t know how unlikely it is to get the ‘children’ (meaning adult children” to even come to see them much less take them to run errands and again it is simply to convenience you as you speed along. No, the ‘old coots’ may literally starve to death or die from their illness if they had to wait on someone to come and take them to run their errands. And, don’t even suggest that they ‘hire someone’ although you usually hear ‘they have money’ right after you hear that statement.

The bottom line is a little tolerance goes a long way. Sure some seniors have a wreck. Some ‘every age’ have wrecks. But, honestly how long has it been since you saw a senior zipping down the road, cutting in front of the car they just passed while talking on the phone, pushing the dog away from the McDonald’s they are unwrapping for the screaming kid while the radio is blaring? It just doesn’t happen. Neither do you see in the newspaper that the senior was DUI of Cocaine or other drugs. We can all use a little more tolerance in this world. And, to be perfectly honest, if you ‘take the old coots’ license, you are simply going to put more people on the road without license because everyone has to have the necessities of life. And, if you want to arrest them, then you get to pay for more jails because most don’t have the money to pay such trivial tickets. If the government wants to take my license, I will start a class action suit to get a federally funded chauffeur to take me where I need to go. Let the ‘young people’ pay this time. They won’t mind. Just be sure the chauffeur is young … and preferably cute.

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~ by citizenjournalistreview on January 4, 2009.

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