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Sixtysomething Drivers Are Getting a Bum Rap

Here are the top 12 highway menaces I'd like to see surrender their licenses first

posted by John Stark, May 8, 2012 More by this author

close up of man handing over car keys

John Stark has held top writing and editing positions at such magazines as Cooks' Illustrated, Body + Soul and People. For 14 years, he was a feature writer and movie critic at the San Francisco Examiner/Chronicle.  Follow John on Twitter @jrstark.


close up of man handing over car keys
Hemera | Thinkstock
I got my first driver’s license more than 40 years ago, and have been driving ever since — safely, too. So when I read an article in The Washington Times about a new AAA study on aging drivers, which touched on the question of when to take away their car keys, I started to freak. I realize there comes a time when people should stop driving, but these researchers weren’t talking about our parents; they were talking about us.
 
According to the article, as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, “America’s roads will be facing a ‘silver tsunami’ of older drivers determined to hold on to their driver’s licenses even as their reflexes slow and eyesight dims.”
 
I’m afraid that includes me: They’ll have to pry my license out of my cold, dead hands.

The Washington Times doesn't hold aging drivers entirely responsible for the predicted mayhem on the highways. “In some ways,” it says, “healthy older drivers are, on average, among the safest on the road, more likely to buckle up, observe speed limits and avoid drinking and driving.” Thank you very much.
 
But the article goes on to blame the victims: “AAA also notes that older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash because of their greater frailty.”

Who’s crashing into whom? They left out that part of the equation.

In my view, there are many other drivers who should be compelled to surrender their licenses before those who buckle up, obey the rules of the road and just happen to have silver hair are forced to turn in theirs. Slower reflexes and dimming eyesight are nothing compared to the liabilities these drivers represent.
 
I’m not just talking about drivers who text, talk on cell phones and eat Big Macs behind the wheel. I’m referring to people who, though they may not be breaking any laws, are nevertheless hazards on the highway, if for no other reason than they increase other drivers’ blood pressure. Get them off our roads, and we’ll all feel safer.
 
Here’s my list. I’m sure you have one of your own.
 
Top 12 Drivers Who Should Not Be Driving
 
  • People who drive with dogs on their laps. Give us the keys.
  • The mom or dad who sports a “My child is an honor student” bumper sticker. Of course you’re proud of your young overachiever, but think of all those parents whose kids who won't be applying for Ivy League schools. Give us the keys.
  • Anyone who drives a BMW. Why is it always a Bimmer that takes up two parking spaces in the Whole Foods parking lot? Give us the keys.
  • Drivers who refuse to make a right turn on a red light when it's perfectly legal. Even honking your horn won’t get them to budge. Give us the keys.
  • People who give you the bird. We all do dumb things once in a while when we're behind the wheel, but why take it personally? When I was living in Boston, the driver of a yellow school bus that belonged to a Christian academy flipped me off. Would Jesus have done that? Give us the keys.
  • Guys who play music at full volume with all of their windows down. How would you like it if I shared my music with you at the next stoplight — Maria Callas amped to the max? Give us the keys.
  • Technically challenged people who hold up the line a drive-up ATM. And let's not forget those who use the drive-up to make multiple deposits. Give us the keys.
  • Drivers who honk the instant a red light turns green. Are you that late for Pilates? Give us the keys.
  • Passive-aggressive types who take their sweet old time leaving a coveted parking space. While you’re waiting to take their spot, they’re checking their email, putting on lipstick in the rearview mirror, la dee dah, la dee dah. Give us the keys.
  • Antique car buffs dressed in period clothing who drive restored Model-T’s down the highway at 10 miles per hour. Cute, but I’m trying to get to Target. Give us the keys.
  • Men over 40 who wear gold chains and drive a Porsche. Sorry, I’m not willing to die because of your midlife crisis. Give us the keys.
  • All Boston drivers. Give us the keys.
 

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