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30 October 2008

I am going to say mean things about old people now! [More:]My nephew was hit by a car this morning. The elderly driver claims he "didn't see" the stopped school bus (?!) and that's why he swerved around it and hit my nephew as he tried to board.

My nephew seems to be OK. His leg is pretty banged up and they've taken him to the hospital to make sure no bones are broken. He's just shaken up (and embarassed to have this happen in front of a bus full of his jr. high buddies.)

This is the second time a member of my family has been hit by someone who should have had their keys taken away. A few years back my sister's car was totalled when an elderly lady ran a stop sign and broadsided her. Fortunately, she and the two kids in the car with her were not seriously injured. The car shattered into a million pieces, though.

What are we going to do when the roads are full of elderly Baby Boomers? If members of the Greatest Generation, who were raised with a sense of community and cooperation, refuse to hand over the keys how that hell are we going to persuade the notoriously headstrong boomers to give up some of their autonomy?
how that hell are we going to persuade the notoriously headstrong boomers to give up some of their autonomy?

You will need to pry my autonomy from my cold dead hands. My car keys will be in the other hand. . .take your pick, slacker.
posted by danf 30 October | 09:45
Isn't that, like, 20 years down the road? We'll all have antigravity transporters by then, nothing to worry about.
posted by cmonkey 30 October | 10:07
It's worse than that, the baby boomers all moved out the burbs and can't survive now without cars. How can they give up their cars when they live twenty miles from everything? I lived in the 'burbs for eight years until last year and you couldn't walk to the supermarket that was a quarter mile away because there's no sidewalks.
posted by octothorpe 30 October | 10:14
Also, stop sending me all those forwarded emails from your friends! Bill Gates isn't gonna pay you one red cent!
posted by chillmost 30 October | 10:31
Do you hear that, people? The Oldies are not goodies!

posted by Atom Eyes 30 October | 10:43
I hear you, jrossi4r, and I completely agree that the problem of elders driving is going to have to be addressed somehow in the near future. As soon as some lawmaker's kid gets hurt, they'll pass some kind of restriction one way or the other.

But know that the boomers don't like it any more than you do. My mother is somewhat horrified to discover she can't race around with her grandson anymore, that her joints ache, and that she can't do all the things she had planned on doing in life. But, her pain is real, and I don't try to discount it.
posted by Melismata 30 October | 10:45
Oh, shoot! I hope your nephew's feeling better.

Seconding octothorpe: it's difficult to get people to give up the keys because, in most of America, you are not a full economic adult if you don't have a car. You can't take care of your shopping. You can't socialize.

Giving up the keys is giving up autonomy and control over your life. And that's a bitter pill to swallow for people who might be feeling marginalized and powerless in many other areas of their lives.
posted by jason's_planet 30 October | 10:56
In my parent's case, anyway, a lot of their bad judgement is due to meds.

This is not a generation afraid of overmedication.
posted by small_ruminant 30 October | 10:56
It's not like it's a new problem, though, and lawmakers haven't done much about it so far. As long as elderly people vote in wildly disproportionate numbers (and as long as AARP and AAA remain rich special interests), I don't expect lawmakers to address the issue any time soon.

I'm sorry your nephew was hit, jrossi, but I'm glad that he seems to be okay.
posted by box 30 October | 11:01
I keep running into this- people in my parents generation whose MDs accept diminishing mental capacity as a sign of age or who knows what, when, so far, the majority of them are fine once their meds are tweaked or decreased.

My dad was one example- because he wasn't at the max allowed for ALL his drugs his MD decided they couldn't be the reason for his paranoia and delusions.

My mom's weirdness was dismissed as Hep C (and therefore not worth treating) when it was her parathyroid.

My boss's sister has an inoperable brain tumor. She started loosing the ability to use the right words- the words that came out didn't make sense. The MDs said "yup. That's what happens!" We all figured it was just the beginning of the end. Nope. It was the meds. The MDs discounted it because she had a brain tumor and therefore- well, what kind of quality of life can you expect with a brain tumor?

If the pushy boomer generation manages to change the medical community's complacence about the loss of quality of life as people age, I'll be supremely grateful.
posted by small_ruminant 30 October | 11:06
The sad thing is, tons of people HAVE been killed by elderly drivers. It's a common occurance. But no politician will take a stand and say retests after age 65 or whatever since they're such a powerful voting block.
posted by kellydamnit 30 October | 11:06
Maybe the perpetrators have their licences taken away after the fact, without your knowledge? My grandfather was in an accident a couple of years ago (just him and car and ditch, no victims) and was assessed before they revoked his licence. But anyone who witnessed the accident wouldn't know about that part.
posted by loiseau 30 October | 11:07
yikes typos. no more posting til after my morning tea.
posted by small_ruminant 30 October | 11:09
Maybe the perpetrators have their licences taken away after the fact, without your knowledge?
Even so... there was a guy here not too long ago who drove up an offramp, went the wrong way for a couple miles on a divided highway, and killed a family when he hit their car. His license was long since suspended for various other age-related driving infractions.

There needs to be some sort of brutal, heartbreaking, over the top educational campaign on the issue. Something to really hammer home the worst case scenario.
posted by kellydamnit 30 October | 11:14
Also- some decent public transportation and shuttles. How are people supposed to get their things done, otherwise?
posted by small_ruminant 30 October | 11:17
yes! here there are free senior shuttles that take people to and from their homes, grocery stores, doctor's appointments, and the senior center, but I live in Elitist Socialist Fake America. I know they're not as common elsewhere.
posted by kellydamnit 30 October | 11:35
Also- some decent public transportation and shuttles. How are people supposed to get their things done, otherwise?

I agree. It's exceptionally bad up here since we have an aging population (IIRC, PA is one of the "oldest" states in the country), public transport is non-existent and nothing is in walking distance. The closest supermarket is about 3 miles away and there are no sidewalks.

I don't know what the answer is (besides cmonkey's suggestion), but it seems like something we should be talking about NOW before things get worse. It would be nice to have some kind of infrastructure in place beforehand rather than racing to play catch-up.

Mr. rossi and I figure we'll move into the city when the time comes. We can get a nice luxury apt. with a concierge for the same price as a retirement community and we'd be able to walk or cab it to all kinds of awesome things. (We also plan on developing a lot of glaucoma that will require herbal remedies and returning to our slacker roots.)
posted by jrossi4r 30 October | 11:45
I'm so sorry to hear about your nephew. That's just awful! I hope they throw the book at the driver - school bus disregard generates hefty fines.

{shakes cane at bad driver}
posted by theora55 30 October | 12:12
Retest retest retest.
posted by Eideteker 30 October | 13:06
Hang it up, old people!

Keep it up, antigravity transporters!
posted by mullacc 30 October | 13:09
I just got off the phone with my sister. They took him to the ER, got X-rays and stuff and he's fine. Just badly bruised. He was mad they made him go to the hospital because he didn't want to jeopardize his perfect attendance record. :-) The principal agreed to count his half day as a whole day.

I was wrong about how the accident went down. The guy didn't swerve. He was barreling down the road in the opposite direction and didn't brake until after he'd clipped my nephew. He gave his contact info to the bus driver and then took off. By the time the cops and ambulance got there, he was gone. Fortunately, my BIL took down his license #.

My hatred of driving is well documented here. Between this and nearly being hit head-on a few weeks ago (I still never found out what happened to the person/people in that minivan), I'm thisclose to being a shut-in. At least until the anti-gravity transporters get here.
posted by jrossi4r 30 October | 13:13
Glad he's okay, jrossi4r!
posted by BoringPostcards 30 October | 13:31
It happens here too, jrossi4r. I've known a couple of old guys who shouldn't have been driving any more (both have now died). One had glaucoma and could barely see and the other had such terrible arthritis that it took him ten minutes to get in and out of his car because he couldn't bend his knees. I don't know how he would have braked in an emergency.
posted by essexjan 30 October | 13:34
@jrossi4r: I am totally mad on your behalf as well. I'm a little more conflicted, though, because the grandma of a friend of mine accidentally drove into a medical practice, injuring several and killing the doctor, so I got to hear the other side of a story like yours (the grandma did not flee).

However your dude? Should be fucking arrested and hauled off to jail. WTH was so important that he couldn't stop for a freaking bus full of children?

On a related note, this morning on the way to work, I saw a huge crowd on 125th and Madison, surrounding an ambulance and learned that a little girl had gotten hit by a car, which was allegedly driven by a livery cab driver according to the passers-by. This is so not cool.
posted by TrishaLynn 30 October | 13:37
so I got to hear the other side of a story like yours

What was the other side of the story?
posted by danostuporstar 30 October | 13:44
What was the other side of the story?
I'm quite curious, too. My grandmother hung up her own keys, she knew she couldn't see well enough to drive. I really wonder how other people can justify it.
posted by kellydamnit 30 October | 16:05
Imagine how much worse this will be when we finally get our flying cars?

Retesting is no kind of solution to this unless they make the test an actual assessment of someone's capacity to drive a car instead of being able to answer a few questions and drive around the block without killing someone. If you can't drive a car in a variety of conditions (including darkness and at high speed) and if you can't control a car in reasonably foreseeable emergency situations (sudden skids, emergency stops etc) you have no place being on the road in the first place. Until they start doing that, the least of our problems is old people on the road. I'm more concerned about all the 17 year-olds who got mum and dad to spring for a WRX and are out there in something that can top 200kph on suburban streets. Until things go wrong, they don't have any idea of how little they know about driving. When they do go wrong, they are going so fast they have no way to respond in time, even if they knew how.

Old drivers are often a problem because of increased reaction time, reducing vision and a refusal to face facts. But at least they know how to drive (well, most anyway). Yeah, there are a lot of incredibly awful old drivers out there, but that's just a subset of the genus "fuckwit on wheels", as far as I'm concerned.
posted by dg 31 October | 04:04
boo, didn't get a job. || things I didn't know before