NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- My friend was rear ended on State Road 44 this week by an 86 year old man. The policeman told him that it was the second time in two weeks he had caused an accident like this. The kicker here is they did not even give him a ticket.
According to New Smyrna Beach police, there wasn’t much damage to my friend’s truck and hardly any to the man’s car so they saw no reason to ticket the older gentleman. Obviously, this man has a depth perception problem and perhaps if he had been ticketed for these collisions it would have alerted his family that it may well be time for them to take the keys away.
I am no stranger to this situation having an Aunt in her 80s who turned in front of traffic and ended up killing her best friend and injuring several others. Her children all lived in other areas and until then had no clue she shouldn’t be driving, especially at night after Bingo. They took away the keys, the state took away her license and we all thought that was that. Being the stubborn Italian woman that she is, several months later she got herself to her doctor who she convinced to clear her to drive and got her license back.
The kids had no choice but to get that car away from her so she would not hurt herself or anyone else. It took a lot of talking and sale of the car to make her realize she could not safely drive again.
If this eolder man involved in the SR 44 accident has children or some family, but they are not in town, then they probably have no clue he is a danger on the road.
The very least the police could have done in this situation was not be so apathetic and try to make sure he is retested before being allowed to get behind the wheel again. My friend emailed the New Smyrna Beach police who emailed back that it is the discretion of the officer to give a ticket if he thinks it is warranted. They did not say why the cop on scene didn't think a ticket was warranted when the man had done this for a second time in two weeks.
Needless to say my friend was not very happy that the very police who are supposed to be protecting us don’t seem to care much about doing so.
My Mother is 88 and still drives. I ride with her often to be sure she is safe. She tells me when she or I feel she is no longer safe, she will relinquish her keys. Since the family member I told you about is her sister, I am not sure it will be that easy, but I am hoping.
I am not against older drivers, but when they start to show they aren’t capable anymore, the problem becomes one all of us need to be involved in before we end up hospitalized because of one of them.
Our state has a plethora of elderly drivers who would give up the cars if there were a system in place to make sure their needs are met. Many elderly have no other way to get to the doctor, pharmacy or the grocery store, for that matter.
There are people out there that shop for others, but must be paid to do so and the majority of seniors are on fixed incomes that will not support that option. What then will they do? They will continue to drive putting themselves and all of us in harms way. Not just our local police, but every citizen needs to help find solutions to this problem since we all will be old one day.
Our infrastructure is set up for drivers and does not have enough other affordable types of transportation. It's time to fix that don’t you think?