As a native New Yorker I came to driving late in life; when my High School offered Driver’s Ed, I wasn’t interested.
Flash forward years later to Miami Beach, where my husband was employed at the time (I tried to learn to drive in NYC and failed the driving test – spectacularly- three times). At least in Miami the test consisted of driving around the block.
I remained a lousy and nervous driver the entire time we were in Florida. Mailmen who wouldn’t stop for rain, snow, sleet or hail stopped dead in their tracks, openmouthed, to watch me parallel park. Giving up the car keys to return to New York was a relief for me and the driving public.
I’m in the minority. Younger people, a study said, fear telling their parents to give up the car keys more than they fear talking about plans for when they die. It’s that tough a conversation. (After all, it’s a loss of independence, and an increase in social isolation, among other drawbacks.)
The NIH has an extensive website all about it (find it here) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has statistics here that are hopeful but still daunting. After all, every time there’s a car accident involving an older person, the headline is “Driver, 78, involved in car crash.” Is that ageism?
No wonder there are some who think people over a certain age should have their keys taken from them, full stop. States have been stepping up to check on the driving skills of older people, too; for more information, the list is here.
What do you think? Is there ageism when it comes to older drivers – or is it common sense? Share your opinions or experience in the comments!
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at [email protected]