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New Challenge for Aging Baby Boomers: Redefine Stereotype of Senior Drivers

06/25/2007
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BY

Television comedians have a field day with jokes about elderly drivers, and with its concentration of retirees, Florida is often the butt of the joke. I have a Florida friend who calls white-haired drivers “no-see-ums.” Not because, like the biting midges, they are so tiny we can’t see ‘em, but because he’s sure they can’t see over the steering wheel.

Statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in fatal accidents. Surely, as the number of drivers over 65 in the United States doubles in the next two decades, there are some ways to keep our parents and grandparents from becoming accident statistics. And maybe, at the same time, we can stop making fun of them – because this is really no laughing matter.

Granted, many older drivers suffer from poor eyesight, impaired coordination, or the beginnings of dementia. But for others, bad driving may simply be a bad habit formed over many years. Many older drivers on our roads were licensed before driver education classes were required, and do not know about defensive driving.

The best antidote to increasing traffic accident fatalities among senior citizens is driver education. AARP partners with Florida Highway Patrol troopers to conduct classes in numerous communities, part of a nationwide program. Why not make this a requirement for driver’s license renewal after a certain age?

It may be tempting to make fun of older drivers if you’re not one. But here’s a scary thought: if you’re a Baby Boomer, it’s a matter of a few short years before the white-haired no-see-um behind the wheel is you!

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