Sunday May 10 was a wonderful day for an outing. With bikes atop, Jill my wife and I travelled to Silverton to visit a friend who lives in Silverton. Then it happened.
An elderly lady, eyes wide, drove her vehicle the wrong way and was heading directly toward the vehicle in which Jill and were passengers. Thanks to fast reflexes, the driver of our car was able to avert a head on collision at the last second. Hearts pounding. As danger passed, we joined in a collective sigh of relief.
No one cherishes the idea of banishing our elders to home. Often that’s what happens when older citizens lose driving privileges. On the other hand, the Silverton incident described above suggests that perhaps some validly licensed elderly Oregon drivers should not be.
Oregon lawmakers tried to address this problem earlier this year with House Bill 2819 which would have required Oregon drivers over 75 to renew their drivers’ license every 4 years rather than 8, pass a driving test or obtain medical certification of ability to drive. The bill died in committee after ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) claimed that older drivers are among the safest. That could be because older motorist simply drive less. As much as we would like, there is no denying the effects of aging.
The bottom line is this. Oregon needs to adopt reasonable safeguards to protect all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from what many motorists, understandably find hard to admit: It’s time to quit driving.