Earlier today, I took a walk from my office on the corner of Millburn and Main down to the Post Office. I’ve always said that Millburn Avenue is a great source of inspiration, and today was no different.
As I crossed Whittingham Terrace (the Post Office is in on the corner of Millburn and Whittingham), an elderly gentleman drove his white Toyota Avalon into the crosswalk. Without paying any attention to the pedestrian about five feet from him (that would be me), he rolled through the intersection without making any attempt to pay attention to the stop sign, made the right hand turn into the center lane of Millburn Avenue, proceeded to straddle 2 lanes for about 100 feet, paying no attention to the car behind him, before veering into a parking spot (without using a turning signal) on Millburn Avenue just down from the Post Office. I watched him swing his door open into the flow of traffic, very slowly get out of his car (not quite standing upright) and amble over to the sidewalk.
My first reaction was to walk over to him and tell him he needs to pay attention to the people crossing the street while he runs a stop sign. My second reaction was to let everyone know about it, which is where we are now. So now I’m thinking, when are you too old to drive?
My own parents are 83 and 86, living in Florida and they both still drive on a daily basis. When it comes to their driving styles, they are complete opposites. My mother is aggressive, believes that everyone should get the heck out of her way when they are in the left lane and is prone to fits of road rage (sorry mom). My father is a very passive driver who has been known to get in the right lane several miles before the exit just so he doesn’t have to deal with passing anyone. To say that I worry about them driving around in Florida where most drivers are either too old or too young, would be an understatement.
There are many time that I think my parents should no longer be driving. After all, I’m always complaining about other elderly drivers. What makes my parents so different? But to have their licenses taken away from them would really be an infringement on their freedom. My father is a CPA and still works. He has a small office in Boca and during the winter, he’s there all the time. My mom drives to dialysis three days a week, not to mention errands, bridge, the beauty parlor, etc. At the moment their driving skills seem OK but I think about that day when I will need to have that conversation. Not going to be that much fun.
In these situations, the urge is to think, “How would I want to be treated?” Much like my mother, I’m an aggressive driver – very confident in my skills behind the wheel. I think I’m a better driver now than I’ve ever been but at some point, those skills that give me that confidence, will start to deteriorate. The reflexes will slow, the senses will dull and age will start to take it’s toll. At that point, it will be up to my own kids to decide what to do about my driving. So kids, I’m telling you right now…when that day comes, please make sure that the limo comes with an 18-year-old single malt and the driver you are going to get for me also knows how to caddie.