When It's Time To Gracefully Withdraw From Driving
Maryville P.D. had to clean up an ugly situation, caused by an elderly person who momentarily got confused, and struck 9 cars. Somehow, no one was hurt. The video's pretty impressive.
Every year or two, I end up bringing a confused old man or woman into a meeting with his or her family, and we have a conversation about the eventual necessities of maturation. I have a talk that I've created, in which I reference how, when I was 11, I had to come to grips with the fact that I had to wear glasses. At 35, I realized that I couldn't run like I could when I was 25. As I advance into my 40s, I'm realizing that I'm soon going to need reading glasses. Many people need canes as they get older, because falling could cause them to break a hip, or worse. This is about accepting stages in life. Usually they will have similar experiences, and I encourage them to tell me about them.
My interactive talk is usually planned at 10 minutes, but tends to run more like an hour. Often there are tears from those involved. (Not from me. Not while in uniform.)
I get the elderly driver to turn over his or her keys, and promise not to drive again, unless cleared by a doctor.
I then inform the Texas Department of Public Safety Driver Improvement and Compliance Bureau that we need a Medical Advisory Board for this person, and I detail and include copies of call sheets for the calls for service which brought me to this conclusion. I have found elderly people lost and unable to find their way home in a town which they grew up in. I have found people with their foot on the accelerator as they chugged their car forward into another car, unable to figure out why their brake wasn't working. I have found people that had no idea that they were driving on a flat tire, having hit a bridge abutment and sideswiped another car. There is a point where a confused driver looks a LOT like an impaired driver. They can be very dangerous. And I have to be the instrument of the state which starts the process of taking this driver out from behind the wheel.
But here's the thing-- ANYONE can request this.
Just as anyone can call in a reckless driver, anyone can request that a person with medical impairment or simple old age be examined. Texans can fill out and mail in this form. If you have an elderly driver that you're worried about, here's further information from Texas Department Of Transportation.
Other states will have similar provisions, if you look.
Sometimes it takes a family member or loved one to put it all together. If Great Aunt Myrtle has had fender benders and senior moments in Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, the local constabulary probably won't have clued to it. But you know it.
Time to utilize one of the most powerful tools that a citizen has in managing the government: the Open Records Request. Get copies of the incident reports and/or crash reports involving Aunt Myrtle, and compile them into a time line, which you send to the licensing bureau, pleading for them to gently relieve Aunt Myrtle of her license. If they're like me, they won't tell her who sent them. Let the government folk be the heavies. Oftentimes, seniors won't listen to family begging them to stop driving, but they will abide by the licensing authorities's decision.
Remember, you're not taking away their driving-- you're helping to save them, and other people, from a dangerous situation.