August 5, 2010

Okay, so I may be flirting with fate or worse, but, at what age are you considered too old to drive?

I recently relayed a joke sent by a friend of mine, Gary. It was about a man visiting his doctor and basically, asking the same question – how old is too old?

I realize that as time goes by, populations increase. The higher the population, the more people are on the roads. You can always tell who the young people are by the way they drive.

The other day, while waiting for some dinner, a ‘gang’ of idiots, all young people, probably in their early to mid 20s, were riding their scooters around the area. They honk their horns, blasting through red lights, zipping along at speeds that, honestly, should be hazardous. Tempting fate and death, as well, since the police tend to be a little lax in Tainan, it doesn’t seem to matter.

They dodge in and out of traffic, with their little girlfriends riding with them, no helmets… basically making asses of themselves. These type of people that CAUSE accidents, and are never involved in them. They make other drivers nervous, and in a country where it seems that people are either older than dirt or talking on cell phones while driving, this makes for a very dangerous situation.

Perhaps I was raised to strict. Perhaps I just don’t have that kind of attitude. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a little 46kg girlfriend to impress. Perhaps I just value life. Whatever the reason, I just can’t understand why anyone, in a population dense country like Taiwan, would need to drive around like a maniac endangering not only their lives, but the lives of their passengers and others on the roadways.

Elderly people are another problem altogether. And this is where I may get chastised.

I remember something a few years back, in Canada, where there was some talk about a law whereby elderly people would have to undergo more frequent driving tests. I also remember that this was a big controversy.

I can understand that as we get older, our reflexes are not as quick as they were when we were young. Our eyesight becomes less than perfect. Our minds are more focused on things other than what is around us when we drive.

Granted, we’ve also paid a lot of taxes. We’ve lived in our communities for a period of time, and know the areas. We’ve driven the streets and highways longer than the younger people. Therefore, we should be allowed to drive where and when we want.

However, even though I am getting along in years, I can understand why laws are being introduced that restrict driving to the elderly. The simple facts above are reason enough.

The more people in an area, the more traffic. The more things to pay attention to. The more situations come up that require quick reflexes. The more stupid, unexperienced, young people driving like idiots.

Here in Taiwan, I constantly see, who I would guess to be VERY old people, driving around as if they were the only people on the roads. The drive around as if they were walking. Looking around at the stores and dogs and whatever else seems to take their mind off what is in front of them. They don’t wear helmets. They wear dark glasses. They drive at 20km or less, thereby holding up traffic. They drive in the middle of lanes, they swerve all over the roadway, and really, are just not, in my opinion, paying attention.

I realize that in a few years, someone will be saying the same thing about me. I hope not, but I know that it will happen, either here in Taiwan or back in Canada. Someone, somewhere, sometime, will deem me to be too old to be driving.

I guess in a way, the question is not so much, at what AGE is one too old, but at what point in one’s life should they be deemed UNFIT or rather, UNPREPARED to deal with the roadways.

We all want our own little bit of freedom. To come and go as we please. To do what we want or need to do, on our own, and not have to be told we can’t. Driving a car, a scooter, riding a bicycle, or just walking down the street, should not be under scrutiny.

However, if one becomes a danger to others, than that is the time they should give up. The roadways in just every country I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, are really becoming more and more hazardous. Perhaps it’s just my perspective, but I see more and more insanity when it comes to driving.

People driving the wrong way on the street. People passing others on the wrong side. Charging through red lights. ‘Window-shopping’ while driving. Driving TOO fast or alternately, TOO slow. Either is a hazard and a nuisance to people. People in cars driving in scooter-only lanes. Turning left on red lights. Where do these people get their permits to drive?

Better question would be, DO THEY HAVE A PERMIT?



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2 responses to “August 5, 2010

  1. Marie

    I agree with you 100% Bill. They’re maniacs on the road so we have to drive defensively.
    By the way, where would you like me to send you the motorized wheelchair??? ♥♥♥

  2. Beth

    Here in Ontario, you don’t get tested until you’re 80. At that time, you only have to do the written portion and if you pass, you get to drive for 2 more years. However, if you have an accident or speeding tickets(yes, I know an 80+ who has speeding tickets, a friend’s mom), then you may be required to take the actual driving test. Dad had a little fender bender last October. He wasn’t due to write his test this year as he turned 87 which means he wrote it last year. However, due to the accident, he was required to take a road test which he failed. He was going to re-take it but after much consideration, cost of insurance, and assessing his need to drive, he did not take the second test and gave up his car. That’s a very tough decision for someone who has been driving 70+ years!
    In my opinion, we all should be tested more regularly and earlier than 80. How often do you pick up a driver’s handbook and re-read the rules? I may have made (maybe even do make) the mistakes Dad did on his road test too. I’ve been driving 32 years and while I consider myself a pretty good driver (in my first accident this year – NOT MY FAULT), I’m far from being a perfect driver.

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