How Old is Too Old?

Recently I was driving within the city limits with my 8 year old daughter. As I typically do, I travel about 35 miles per hour when the posted speed is 30 mph. Surprisingly I quickly approached the car in front of me. As I was forced to slow down I looked down at my speedometer and was only traveling 20 mph. I then checked in my rear view mirror and noticed 2 other cars quickly catching up to me as well. As I tried to look ahead and see who was driving this slow car, I was able to see this person was up there in age (my guess in their 80s), she was too short too look over the steering wheel and was leaning to the right side of the car in order to see. While trying to do all this, not only was the car traveling at a top speed of 20 mph, yes I did keep track, the car was swerving from side to side in the driving lane. A couple times the tires did travel onto the shoulder of the road. My last concern was there was non stop at the stop sign. As the car approached the stop sign, the person did signal, but probably rolled through the stop sign at about 10 mph without any yielding before continuing.

I would be willing to guess most of you have a similar story. I have even heard stories of people seeing the elderly drive the wrong way through the drive through. Now I am not about to sit here and say the younger population doesn’t commit these same mistakes but in all seriousness how old is too old for people to continue driving?

Younger drivers and their distracted driving is a subject for another time, but older drivers I do believe need to be held accountable for their inattentive driving as well. It certainly would be a hard decision to figure out what new regulations would be beneficial and fair for the older generation, but something needs to happen. I almost felt compelled to call the police on this old person for the safety of others. I could argue the actions demonstrated by this driver are almost as dangerous as a drunk driver. If one can’t even see over the steering wheel, DON’T DRIVE! A simple eye exam when it is time to renew your license just isn’t enough.

As a society we need to be just as concerned with the older generation and their distracted driving as we are with the younger generation.

Published by

Eddie Bashaw

Living in Duluth, Minnesota and I love writing about it.

26 thoughts on “How Old is Too Old?”

  1. I agree with your comments above – I know we can not single out older drivers but i think we need to have reaction tests or follow up drivers tests even say every 3-5 years once we hit the age of 30 (I say 30 so we are not singling out the “older” demographic) I know it would be a hassle and a pain but I think it would be good to weed out the drivers that cant see over the steering wheel anymore –

  2. A good thing to do would have been to note the license plate number and location and potential direction of the vehicle/driver and notify law enforcement of the situation. That way, if there is a record of a traffic stop for unsafe driving, there would have been support for denying driving priviledges.

  3. I have seen many many young drivers that are looking through the steering wheel while driving and then with the idea that they are indestructible makes them very dangerous also.

  4. I made a similar comment to my grandmother once when I was in college (in the same city as her and my grandpa) and she said “Great idea! I’ll just call YOU whenever I need a ride somewhere.” So yeah nevermind. Drive on granny.

  5. “As I typically do, I travel about 35 miles per hour when the posted speed is 30 mph. ” I am curious. Are there other laws for which it is ok to break a little bit? Maybe robbing a convenience store 5 dollars is ok but 100 dollars isn’t? Why do we think that speeding just a little is normal? It is still breaking the law.

    1. My concern about their driving is when they go slower than the speed limit and as I referenced the swerving all over. I want people to drive the posted speed limit. But I would say that speeding just a little is normal. But please drive the posted speed limit.

      1. The posted speed limit is a maximum, not a minimum. I agree that driving 20 in a 30 zone can be hazardous. But it is not illegal. Driving 35 in a 30 zone is illegal.

        1. “My concern about their driving is when they go slower than the speed limit” suggests that Eddie should have another go at driving school. Unless there is a posted minimum and she went slower than that, she was well within her rights to go 20. You, on the other hand were not within your rights to go 35, especially if you do this often, as you say you “typically do”. It is luckly for you the senior citizen did not feel “compelled to call the police on this ‘young’ for the safety of others.”

  6. David, even police say 4-5 over is “normal speeding” and tend to ignore it in many situations. The subject here is whether someone is a danger to other drivers, bikers and pedestrians. A qualified driver doing 34 in a 30 is not a danger. An unqualified driver doing 20 in a 30 is a danger.

  7. As a matter of information, there is more stringency in our law in driver license testing for older persons. If more should be done I suggest you contact your state legislator for additional action in the next legislative session. The law will apply to all of us before we know it or want it!

    Senator Tim Mathern

  8. “normal speeding”. How can you say the “subject here is whether someone is a danger” while justifying another illegal act. ANY law enforcement officer will tell you SPEED KILLS! That’s ANY speed. Just like one beer, one drink, one glass of wine impairs you. So that must be OK too? Obviously there are drivers who shouldn’t be on the road, but let’s keep the playing field level. No illegal act or impairment should get a pass.

  9. While I simpathize with Mr. Bashaw in that the swerving and the height issue is a problem,
    I also think that driving the speed limit is a law. 4 miles over, 5 miles over, it is against the law. I drive the speed limit and I am constantly “pushed” by drivers behind me to drive faster.
    The speed limit is there for a reason and has been probably checked for the safest speed in that area. It seems funny to point fingers at an elder driver when you yourself are a poor role model for your child.

    1. Well as I wrote I don’t have an issue with someone driving the speed limit it is extremely slow drivers below the speed limit. I point the finger because it was an elderly driver! But I do appreciate the comment.

  10. Oh it hurt my heart to read this article about elderly drivers. As you stated some day that will be us if we are lucky. You have no idea what her situation was that day. Maybe she doesn’t have family/friends to give her a ride, she may not know how to use public transportation. I do not deny that not stopping at a stop sign could cause an accident. What I am saying is give the lady a break she was taking care of herself and still has some independance…good for her.

  11. Wow, I am surprised at the comments here. Especially given the recent case where the 92 year old in ND killed that woman who was on a motorcycle. No we should not give those a break who are trying to cling to an independence that puts others in danger. At 60 there should be a mandatory driving test and every 5 years after that. My grandpa was allowed to drive and was pulled over numerous times but the cops took heart and only gave him warnings. He should never have been on the road. I’m sorry but at a certain point your mind literally does start to break down and it is as bad as being a drunk driver when you are old. They shouldn’t get a pass.

  12. Eddie, these comments make me laugh. My guess is they are all old. You are normal in your driving 35, anyone who says they don’t go a little over the speed limit is a liar. You are right. That is all. Have a good day.

  13. Eddie, your comments are well taken. I am approaching the age where I will have to look at how long I can or should drive. The driving tests could certainly be more thorough as the age and all other factors are taken into consideration. My mother at 81 was caught speeding in a school area, she was short and could not see well out the window. That was it. Her driving privilege was revoked and yes, it really did curb her feeling of independence. She was safer and so were the drivers around her. Anyone -regardless of age – would be a generous kind individual if they would recognize their own inabilities anymore. Well said.

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