Because studies show …Written by Tom Morrissey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The 19-year-old girl was driving through an intersection, headed to take her final exams. To the stun of her family, she never made it all the way through as she died five days later. Katie had studied all weekend for her exams, left early for class, but Fate had other plans in mind.
A 4-year-old girl was crossing a crosswalk with her grandfather as the little girl was taken from this world. As the girl’s grandfather described the tragedy, he remarked that she was just taken from him. She was dead in an instant, and he felt dead, too.
Although a horrific accident hasn’t ripped through Toledo’s heart in such a manner, there is still a deadly force picking off lives and creating danger on the roads. The force has been in existence since cars were invented, definitely much longer than cell phones and text messaging has been around.
The roads are virtually unsafe, and the statute that is coming into effect in 2010 won’t do anything to clean up the destructive force that is targeting our nation’s roads, pedestrians and children. That force?
America’s population is growing older, as are America’s drivers, with the number of older drivers expected to increase by 50 percent in the next 20 years.
According to studies by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, in 2008, 13 percent of the population was 65 and older. Around 91 percent of the 65 and older crowd are drivers, with an increase in that age range of 19 percent from 1997 to 2007, while the actual number of licensed drivers only rose 13 percent in that same time frame.
The 65 and older age group accounted for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, even though the age group made up only 15 percent of all licensed drivers.
The fatalities caused by older drivers in 2007 almost always occurred during daylight on a weekday involving another vehicle.
Drunken driving is not a problem the 65 and older population faces — older drivers who were involved in fatal accidents had the lowest proportion of alcohol related accidents of any age group. However, behaviors, such as bad judgment turning left, drifting within traffic lanes and inability to react to an unexpected situation plague seniors behind the wheel. The fact that seniors don’t drink and drive really doesn’t matter when their impairments are not something that will disappear the morning after.
A 2009 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that 78 percent of the people polled who were age 55 and up took one or more medications, and only 28 percent of those were aware that mixing medications and driving could be dangerous.
With natural impairments and medications secretly affecting driving abilities, we should be extremely grateful that our senior citizens are not the ones who are unable to walk the straight line or say the alphabet backwards.
Besides studies, personal experience does factor into this equation from the hit and run from the elderly driver who backed into my car in the post office parking lot, then took off as if nothing happened, to the multiple older drivers who have backed into other’s cars at the Kroger parking lot. Standing, waving our arms and yelling to stop, one particular senior backed up into another car despite our warnings, pulled forward a smidgen, then backed up again for another smash into the same car.
These senior citizen drivers are clearly a menace.
Chosen son Steve Steel has set a marvelous example on city council by pushing council to pass laws that he labeled unnecessary. Steel’s bike statute has no relevance or need in Toledo. However, by passing a law banning older drivers, he would at least have studies proving there is an actual danger to “protect” Toledo from.
Councilman D. Michael Collins, supported banning text messaging because of studies and nationwide polling.
With a city council this inept and ignorant willing to pass laws based on nothing or some studies and polls — if we are lucky, who knows, perhaps old people will soon be banned from the roads, making your trip to the Kroger parking lot that less expensive, and not just because of the 10 for 10 deals.
E-mail columnist Tom Morrissey at email@example.com.