Friday, October 20, 2006

Hand over the keys, Gramps.

This is such a sad and depressing story.

"An 89-year-old man who lost control of his car and crashed through a Los Angeles-area street market, killing 10 people and injuring 63 others, was convicted on Friday of vehicular manslaughter."


But it raises important questions we will be asking frequently in the next few decades as the massive Baby Boomer generation retires and heads into old age.

When does it become unsafe for an elderly person to drive? In California you must be 16 years old minimum to drive. Should there be a maximum age?

What options will our society provide to ensure people of all ages can still get around? Responsibly ending one's driving years should be an easy decision that will not mean the end of one's freedom or mobility.

Let the discussion begin...


frank said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. Older folks refuse to quit driving, even when they know they should, because they feel they will be cut off from the world.

If we had decent transit in America this would not be such a huge problem.

Anonymous said...

Santa Monica has a really fine public transit system. And tickets for the elderly and disabled are only $.25

This guy should have had his car taken away years ago.

Lilia said...

As a transportation planner, I've worked on projects that touch on this issue before. Budgets for public transit in this country continue to decline, and specialists in senior mobility often end up looking for ways to keep the elderly *driving longer* bc it costs too much for them to use paratransit (transit systems designed specifically for seniors and people with disabilities in areas that don’t have a bus stop on every corner). Paratransit doesn't work if too many people need it, and expanding it would take money away from other, more-efficient types of public transportation. I think this is unconscionable, no matter how much I may like these colleagues.

The answer, as always, transcends transportation. We need a system thru which the elderly can easily move into senior housing in urban areas well-served by public transportation. This also means that we need to be building lots and lots of senior housing in our cities and we need to find a way to convince aging boomers that this move is desirable.