Elderly drivers are currently getting very bad press. There was an opinion in the Patriot Ledger today by Lauren Munger of South Weymouth, asking families to be held accountable for assessing the driving ability of elderly drivers in their families.
Certainly, there are some drivers who shouldn’t be on the road for a variety of reasons. I would venture to say that most of the reasons that someone shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle have nothing to do with age.
Changes in medication, vision changes, cataracts, license suspensions, undiagnosed medical conditions, repeated driving offenses and moving violations are all reasons why someone might lose their license from the RMV. Many of the reasons are correctable over time, medications can be changed or monitored, vision can be monitored and prescriptions changed, or someone can go and see their doctor to get a diagnosis. If someone can’t drive for legal reasons, they can appeal to the Registry of Motor Vehicles with an attorney and either get their license back, or get a hardship license. Usually, if your license is suspended for legal reasons you can get it back sooner or later (but not always).
There are people of every age who get into car accidents, and people of any age who should not be driving for medical reasons. There are certainly circumstances where people should not be driving, but it should be for a good cause and not at the whim of an irate police officer or a nervous relative.
Recently, I was in Brockton District Court on a matter, and was witness to one of the saddest and most depressing pleas and sentencing I had ever seen. Jane Berghold plead guilty to two counts of negligent motor vehicle homicide and one count of serious bodily injury. It was a tragedy, but I do not think that every single driver over a certain age should be punished for a mistake. There are young 80 year olds and old 35 year olds.