Sunday, 3 June 2012

Beware of the Elderly Driver!

      Where I live there is a huge elderly population. The late, great and cheeky comedian, Spike Milligan laughingly referred to it as the world's biggest above ground cemetery!  (His mum lived nearby). 
     Now that may seem a bit harsh, but anyone who own and drives a car around here will fully understand what I mean when they read this blog.  There are more 'Elderly' and 'Disabled' parking spots in the local malls here, than anywhere else in the country. 

      They're hearing impaired, vision impaired and sliding into dementia, but they've still got their drivers licenses! All in all, it's a recipe for some potentially hair-raising experiences on the road.

     Now, I have nothing against elderly drivers, many have been on the road longer than I've been alive and their driving skill are exemplary, but occasionally, just occasionally, you meet the one whose presence on the road would raise the blood pressure of an angel! And they're usually on the road on a Thursday. Why? That's pension day. They're out collecting their payments and doing their shopping. The mall is busy with elderly shoppers and so is the parking lot. There are more 'Disabled' stickers visible than bird droppings on windscreens.
     I tend to avoid using my car on Thursdays. But if I necessary, I plan well ahead and give myself extra time, for the odds of my meeting one of the super-slow brigade is very high. It's quite common for them to be doing at least ten-to-twenty kilometers less than the legal sped limit. 
      And in case I was thinking of using my car horn to give them a little hint and speed things up - so to speak - I've discovered reasons why that would not be a good idea. Let me elaborate.
     Firstly, there's a chance the elderly driver in front of me is either completely or, at least, partially hearing impaired and if they do have their hearing aids switched on, they'll probably assume it's static and ignore it completely. So, blasting my horn any louder simply won't work.
     Secondly, if they do happen to hear it, it's likely to give them such a fright they'll end up going into cardiac arrest! I certainly don't want to be responsible for an elderly person's passing, nor the subsequent accident when they plow into the car in front of them.
    Thirdly, since their vision is no longer as acute as it once was, it's harder for the elderly to see where they're going or even judge distances accurately. Hence their tendency to drive slower than everyone else on the road. For the young P-Plater, it's particularly excruciating since they haven't been alive long enough to have acquired the skill of patience. Many never do. They now permanently reside in the local cemetery.

     Lastly, even though holding onto their licenses gives the elderly a sense of independence - which I don't deride - I sometimes wonder how many accidents they have unwittingly caused as other drivers try to overtake or get around them in an effort to get to their destination in a reasonable amount of time.
     We will never know!
     So, as I said earlier, I try not to use the car on Thursdays.
     And when my time comes, I hope I won't have to be told to give up my drivers license, but do so before I'm on the receiving end of frustrated horn blasts and creative finger gestures!


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