America’s Baby Boom generation turns 65 next year, which means it’s only a matter of time before America’s roads are clogged with self-satisfied drivers in total denial about their rapidly deteriorating vision, reaction time and decision making abilities (Gosh, is there anything as satisfying as generational bashing?). Everyone knows that old drivers are bad drivers, but they’re also more likely to be injured due to their physical frailty. Drivers over 70 are three times as likely as those aged 35-54 to sustain a fatal injury in a crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board is worried enough about the prospect of an aging demographic bulge to hold a conference on the topic in DC. According to the DetN, conversation there centers on a number of potential measures for curbing the impacts of aging drivers, including “Michigan lefts,” which move left-hand turns out of major intersections, traffic circles, and improved safety equipment like inflatable seatbelts. But the real elephant in the room is restrictions on licensing, including mandatory eye testing, restrictions on license renewal by mail, shorter renewal periods, and even additional testing for drivers over a certain age.
Needless to say, Americans tend to think of driving as a right rather than a privilege, but if states restrict license rights for new drivers, there’s no question that senior drivers should face some kind of oversight. Especially in the context of tragedies like the Santa Monica Farmers Market incident. But how much? And what kind? And at what age?