About proposal to retest older drivers
On June 29, Kirk Cartwright was bicycling on a bike path in Eau Claire when 90-year-old Archie Vanwormer left the road and drove his truck onto the path, killing Cartwright.
As a wire story in the Nov. 25 Gazette reported, Vanwormer was charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and hit-and-run resulting in death. He later was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
On Monday, the “Today” show on NBC offered data that suggest older drivers aren’t the menace one might think. In fact, while older drivers tend to die in crashes at higher rates because of frail health, those in their mid to late 80s have a crash rate less than half that of teens and drivers in their early 20s. Why? Well, older drivers tend not to drink and drive, often avoid driving at night, obey traffic laws and don’t often speed.
That reminds me of Dad. He turns 82 in February and seldom drives at night. He tends to take back roads to avoid congested, high-traffic routes. Yet he doesn’t walk well and uses a handicapped sticker when he parks. I don’t fear for my safety when he drives and I ride around town, but his reflexes aren’t what they once were. If he lives many more years, I know the day will come when we must take the keys from him.
Perhaps more frequent testing of older drivers, as the Cartwright family is pushing, might help families avoid that wrestling match over the keys.
I realize I blogged about this subject last week, but I’m doing so again to alert you that this topic will now be the focus of Thursday’s Gazette editorial.