May 12, 2005

Reply to Old Grey Mare

I got an interesting comment on a post I made a day or so ago while very angry, and I thought I might address it.

Also I thought I might address the fact that what I said there was not really on topic at all, it was just on my mind and I tossed it in there because it's a pet peeve of mine. *S* So my apologies for tossing that in where it didn't really belong.

For those of you who don't read comments, I've republished it here--

Well some people are fortunate enough to receive their license in the mail & I'm one of them. Don't hate me, this ole grey mare went through hell to get here. Some of us old people are able to drive quiet well thank you.... it might not have been her/his fault. You know the young ones some time might be the "cause" of all the problems... It took a lot of years & a lot of "learned from experence" to get to this time in point. Give "us" a break.

For the record, I don't hate anyone. Not really. I dislike a few people, and get angry at stupidity a whole lot, but I don't hate anyone. And I'm not blaming anyone for the accident, mainly because I didn't see it, so I can't be pointing fingers. In all fairness I've been involved in my share of accidents over the years, and have sometimes been the cause, and have more often been the victim. I can cite incidents from my own experience to back both claims--I have been the victim of a hit-and-run in a Garden District neighborhood by a VERY old man in a VERY large car who, when I leapt out to ask if he was okay and to get his insurance info waited until I was good and out of my vehicle, whereupon he sped off, rear bumper hanging off his car, never to be seen again. I ate that ticket AND the insurance costs.

A very good friend of mine was a City Police Officer, in the motorcycle division. I say "was" because he was struck broadside in bright daylight downtown, leading a FUNERAL PROCESSION with all his lights going, by a very old woman who simply didn't or couldn't stop. She later reported that "she didn't see him." How do you not see a 700 pound blue and white police motorcycle with strobes flashing and a siren on while crossing an intersection? His legs were crushed from impacting the car, and enough damage was done to him that he was forced to retire from the police force at age 35.

I also know of at least three cases where teens too young and too unskilled to have a license have killed themselve and their companions while behind the wheel of cars.

It all matters little anything, honestly. People get in accidents all the time, for a variety of reasons. My real problem with the whole thing is this--

A driver's license by mail is like giving pilot's licenses out over the internet.

Having survived, as you have, Old Grey Mare, a lot of hell on the roads, I realise that most people, and I do mean MOST, not referring to age or anything, most people in general shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car EVER. If we were required to take a driving test every four years, including honest tests to record visual acuity, hearing acuity and I think most importantly, response time and ability, as well as requiring EVERY motorist to prove physical fitness and be required to attend real honest-to-goodness driver's skills courses I think the accident rate would plummet. For that matter, if cellular phone use was outlawed on the road and ENFORCED the accident rate would plummet, too.

I have had instances when I used to work in retail where an elderly person (80 years old +) would present me with a valid driver's license to use a personal check for a purchase, and yet not be able to walk out of the building without assistance. Who to blame? The DMV, because that license was renewed by the mail. The DMV never SAW this person, bless their souls, who had so little leg strength they couldn't walk alone, yet they are allowed behind the wheel of a half-ton of rolling steel, with the ability to EASILY kill or main people. What happens if I'm the one in front of that person on my bike when they suddenly realise they don't have the leg strength to put their foot on the brake pedal? What happens when they realise the same thing in a neighborhood and that two year old just ran out in front of them?

My own mother, sweet lady that she is, is 80. She's still very alert, has clear vision with glasses, and is physically adept. She walks unaided, and is able to hear me do something wrong a mile away. My uncle is a few years older, and is so scatterbrained from advanced senility that I am astounded he hasn't driven his car off the road and killed himself or someone else. Both of them have their licenses renewed by mail. Who is the dangerous one?

My point is that people who are asking for the privilige (not the right) to operate a motor vehicle, be it bike, car, aircraft or boat should be tested and tested RIGOROUSLY and OFTEN. That's how you're going to reduce fatalities and make the increasingly overcrowded roads safer. Not speed limits, not safer guard rails, not hybrid cars with crumple zones, but people who know how to operate that machine and are physically capable of it.

And I still love you Peggy, very much. I know you can drive pretty damned well for an Old Grey Mare. *grin*

1 comment:

Old Grey Mare said...

My appologies to you Irrelephant. I stand corrected to the fact that mail order license are not all that they are cracked up to be. I guess that I should also be required to take a driven test as well as an eye test to renew, but, the time & physical pain that waiting for so long on uncomfortable seats/benches take a toll on a lot of people. Maybe there should be Automobile seats to sit on so that you could at least be semi comfortable.... Oh BTW I still love you too VERY MUCH, & Mrs. Irrelephant & Wee erelephant too.........