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  1. #1
    Commander, UFO Bike K'Tesh's Avatar
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    Elderly, forgetful, and confused driver...

    Last night I was studying at the local KFC restaurant (no TV or computer to distract me), when an elderly gentleman I recognized came in to order something. He set down a binder, went to the counter, thought a bit, then changed his mind, and left without the binder. My head was down during this time, so I didn't notice it until after he had driven off. So, the crew put it in the office for safekeeping. I kept studying until they closed, then I realized that I needed to move. There's another fast food restaurant down the street that stays open later, so I went there.

    At that restaurant, I found the gentleman eating, and working on something. I told him of the lost binder, and he asked me which KFC (there's only one in this section of town). So, I told him, and pointed it out. But he was confused, so I pointed it out again, and repeated that the lobby was closed, but he may be able to go to the drive thru, and talk to the manager. He left, then came back a few minutes later, and told me that the lobby was locked, so he came back again, and asked me to describe the binder. I did, but I got the strong impression that his mind was locked into some kind of repeating loop. A few minutes later, he came up to me again and told me that the KFC was locked, and was I sure that he had left his binder there. I described it again and he shuffled off.

    Later, I heard him ask another customer where he had left his binder, and thanked them for telling him about it. I recognized this person as well, and I'm certain that they were not at KFC after he left. This gave me the impression that this gentleman is suffering from Alzheimer's or some other medical issue. Then he said the words that really put a fear into me. He checked his car, and didn't find anything missing.

    That was chilling. He forgot his binder, needed to be reminded of which KFC he left it at, and where KFC was. He did this repeatedly, and then to the wrong person. I called non-emergency to advise them of this. I've been hit by an elderly driver, and I don't want a repeat, or to hear about someone else being hit.

    An officer came out and found him, and I listened in on the conversation. From that, I found out that the driver had also parked his car in the no parking section of the Disabled parking area. The elderly driver asked if he should move it, and the officer said no, it was ok this time. They talked some more and the gentleman again asked if he needed to move his car, again he was told no.

    At this time, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to study any more, so I left quietly behind the officer. I talked to him, and he told me he that he understood why I'd call, but there's not much they can do at this time (his violation wasn't enough to get his driving abilities tested).

    Here's the thing that scares me, what will it take for this driver, and others like him, to get their ability behind the wheel tested, and if necessary their licenses removed.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Here's the thing that scares me, what will it take for this driver, and others like him, to get their ability behind the wheel tested, and if necessary their licenses removed.

    Two car crashes...He won't remember how the first one happened.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    About a year ago my father had a stroke, resulting in his (second) wife doing all of their driving. When I went to visit them (in Florida) I discovered that she has dementia; she can maintain a conversation and has excellent physical skills but she can't remember some things for more than a few minutes. They got lost often but had no apparent near-crashes. Unfortunately, I could not talk them out of her driving, and the legal process to require her driving to be reviewed was complicated. Their suburban home location was isolated and depended on automobile use.

    I did get them to move permanently to their second home, in a more urban location close to her family, who provide her a support network and reduce the amount of driving she would need to do. A few months later my father passed away, and his wife entered assisted living. She won't be driving any more.

    Part of the difficulty with removing such drivers from the road is that the higher level decision making skills often erode much earlier than the physical and perceptual driving skills required to pass a driving test. There doesn't appear to be much political will to second-guess seniors' decision making skills if they can steer the car down the road. But I maintain that confusion at the wrong time can be deadly.

    Another problem is today's seniors common preference to retire in automobile-dependent areas. Taking away driving privileges is perceived as devastating their lifestyle. We need a better model for the land use/aging equation.

  4. #4
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    About a year ago my father had a stroke, resulting in his (second) wife doing all of their driving. When I went to visit them (in Florida) I discovered that she has dementia; she can maintain a conversation and has excellent physical skills but she can't remember some things for more than a few minutes. They got lost often but had no apparent near-crashes. Unfortunately, I could not talk them out of her driving, and the legal process to require her driving to be reviewed was complicated. Their suburban home location was isolated and depended on automobile use.

    I did get them to move permanently to their second home, in a more urban location close to her family, who provide her a support network and reduce the amount of driving she would need to do. A few months later my father passed away, and his wife entered assisted living. She won't be driving any more.

    Part of the difficulty with removing such drivers from the road is that the higher level decision making skills often erode much earlier than the physical and perceptual driving skills required to pass a driving test. There doesn't appear to be much political will to second-guess seniors' decision making skills if they can steer the car down the road. But I maintain that confusion at the wrong time can be deadly.

    Another problem is today's seniors common preference to retire in automobile-dependent areas. Taking away driving privileges is perceived as devastating their lifestyle. We need a better model for the land use/aging equation.
    As I was reading what happened with your father, it was repeatedly reminding me of my mother.

    My mother was diagnosed with a medical problem directly related to, and affecting her eyesight. The same medical condition causes patients to drive over medians(including the medians made out concrete and at least foot high on the ground). I have been in the car on two occasions where she drove over a concrete median/divider. She told me that her ability gauge a concrete median is affected, yet she is still driving. She has made no offer to stop driving, before she gets it corrected. I know she has taken the bus before, so I know she can use public transportation.

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I was riding uphill yesterday and watched in my rear view mirror a car continue to drift to the RIGHT as it climbed the hill, lining up with me and NOT in a passing position.

    as the car got MUCH closer the driver saw me, i'm guessing, and corrected their course, and went around me. the driver?

    A woman so frail and dottering, who looked like she should NOT have been piloting a motor vehicle.

    Unfortunately, we are BEHOLDEN to the automobile in this country so bad that half blind people are encouraged by community design to drive cars well past a safe ability to do so.
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  6. #6
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    I was riding uphill yesterday and watched in my rear view mirror a car continue to drift to the RIGHT as it climbed the hill, lining up with me and NOT in a passing position.

    as the car got MUCH closer the driver saw me, i'm guessing, and corrected their course, and went around me. the driver?

    A woman so frail and dottering, who looked like she should NOT have been piloting a motor vehicle.

    Unfortunately, we are BEHOLDEN to the automobile in this country so bad that half blind people are encouraged by community design to drive cars well past a safe ability to do so.
    Did the hill have a steep drop on one side of the road?

  7. #7
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    The problem is that retired folks make up the largest voting block in the country and people are so afraid of them they won't enact the laws necessary to remove the few that really need to be removed from the road.

    Please note, I did not say you should lose your license and be put in front of a death panel the moment you retire.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  8. #8
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    With automobile usage heavily engrained in many of the elderly US population, it usually takes a well concerted effort to convince many to give up driving, add to the fact of a very autocentric US landscape, it only makes in that more difficult.

  9. #9
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    I doubt it will ever change. Ten deaths, 63 injuries and 21 million dollars (so far) in civil suits changed nothing in California.

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    Although we could try boarding up all the Country Kitchen Buffets:

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    Last edited by seeker333; 01-12-12 at 11:18 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    A driver like the one the OP referred to put me in the hospital and in months of physical therapy. There really should be some sort of yearly recertification after a certain age. My experience with my father's Alzheimer's was that the changes from one year to the next can be really dramatic.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K'Tesh View Post
    Last night I was studying at the local KFC restaurant (no TV or computer to distract me), when an elderly gentleman I recognized came in to order something. He set down a binder, went to the counter, thought a bit, then changed his mind, and left without the binder. My head was down during this time, so I didn't notice it until after he had driven off. So, the crew put it in the office for safekeeping. I kept studying until they closed, then I realized that I needed to move. There's another fast food restaurant down the street that stays open later, so I went there.

    At that restaurant, I found the gentleman eating, and working on something. I told him of the lost binder, and he asked me which KFC (there's only one in this section of town). So, I told him, and pointed it out. But he was confused, so I pointed it out again, and repeated that the lobby was closed, but he may be able to go to the drive thru, and talk to the manager. He left, then came back a few minutes later, and told me that the lobby was locked, so he came back again, and asked me to describe the binder. I did, but I got the strong impression that his mind was locked into some kind of repeating loop. A few minutes later, he came up to me again and told me that the KFC was locked, and was I sure that he had left his binder there. I described it again and he shuffled off.

    Later, I heard him ask another customer where he had left his binder, and thanked them for telling him about it. I recognized this person as well, and I'm certain that they were not at KFC after he left. This gave me the impression that this gentleman is suffering from Alzheimer's or some other medical issue. Then he said the words that really put a fear into me. He checked his car, and didn't find anything missing.

    That was chilling. He forgot his binder, needed to be reminded of which KFC he left it at, and where KFC was. He did this repeatedly, and then to the wrong person. I called non-emergency to advise them of this. I've been hit by an elderly driver, and I don't want a repeat, or to hear about someone else being hit.

    An officer came out and found him, and I listened in on the conversation. From that, I found out that the driver had also parked his car in the no parking section of the Disabled parking area. The elderly driver asked if he should move it, and the officer said no, it was ok this time. They talked some more and the gentleman again asked if he needed to move his car, again he was told no.

    At this time, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to study any more, so I left quietly behind the officer. I talked to him, and he told me he that he understood why I'd call, but there's not much they can do at this time (his violation wasn't enough to get his driving abilities tested).

    Here's the thing that scares me, what will it take for this driver, and others like him, to get their ability behind the wheel tested, and if necessary their licenses removed.


    Do you really need to ask that question? We all know that it isn't until he has been involved in several "accidents" that either injures or worse kills someone before someone is going to take notice and have him retested. He is an "accident" waiting to happen. As what happens when he's out driving and "forgets" where he is and makes a wrong turn?

    I know that age alone isn't a good factor in determining when to retest someone, but for right now, it is all that we have. Once a person reaches a certain age they should have to not only be retested, but should also have to have a medical exam if they wish to continue to drive.

    Medical personal shouldn't be afraid to report patients (regardless of age) that they think are unsafe drivers, and doctor/patient confidentiality shouldn't be an issue when the greater safety is a legitimate concern.

    I mean we all know that as we age our eyesight, reflexes, muscle control, etc. all deteriorate and get slower. So that age in that regard IS a measure to determine when to start retesting people.

    And who knows maybe if enough people (seniors and non-seniors alike) lose their driving privilege it'll be the motivator for improved public transportation.
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  12. #12
    vol
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    And the problem is, when an elderly driver hits/runs over someone, they tend to be forgiven by many for their age. They will not be put in jail, for sure. Essentially they get out of it for free, except for some guilty feeling in themselves. They are like a special class of citizens less punished by the law than others committing the same type of manslaughter. "Just let me continue driving while I still can, until I have an accident, OK? See, so far nothing has happened!"

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    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    I personally think that all drivers should be tested yearly. That doesn't seem so great a burden for such a privilege.

  14. #14
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    back in my undergrad days, I lived in a house that had a newspaper clipping taped to the wall. It was about an elderly driver who had killed 14 people in 7 separate incidents. They finally pieced things together and realized she was a rolling death squad. I suspect it's still possible to have more than one fatal accident before they take your license in most states.

    My dad gave his license up voluntarily after an accident. Nobody was injured and they weren't going to take it from him, he just decided he was too dangerous.

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    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    back in my undergrad days, I lived in a house that had a newspaper clipping taped to the wall. It was about an elderly driver who had killed 14 people in 7 separate incidents. They finally pieced things together and realized she was a rolling death squad. I suspect it's still possible to have more than one fatal accident before they take your license in most states.

    My dad gave his license up voluntarily after an accident. Nobody was injured and they weren't going to take it from him, he just decided he was too dangerous.
    Your father is a good example for elderly drivers. About the one that killed 14, did she hit and run??

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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    And the problem is, when an elderly driver hits/runs over someone, they tend to be forgiven by many for their age. They will not be put in jail, for sure. Essentially they get out of it for free, except for some guilty feeling in themselves. They are like a special class of citizens less punished by the law than others committing the same type of manslaughter. "Just let me continue driving while I still can, until I have an accident, OK? See, so far nothing has happened!"
    I'd be the last one to advocate jailing a senior who's lost their 'edge' but won't give up; there are myriad other choices (not saying you ARE advocating that, but you DID bring it up).

    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    I personally think that all drivers should be tested yearly. That doesn't seem so great a burden for such a privilege.
    A more simple answer is to make the test TOUGHER than the '2-inch putt' it has become; too many people think driving just means, "I know red, yellow, green, I know STOP, I know left and right, I know gas and brake. I CAN DRIVE!" (Some don't even bother getting licensed, they just buy a car and go!) MAKE THE TEST TOUGHER, so people actually will TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, and MAKE UNLICENSED DRIVING A SERIOUS CRIME instead of the handslap it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    back in my undergrad days, I lived in a house that had a newspaper clipping taped to the wall. It was about an elderly driver who had killed 14 people in 7 separate incidents. They finally pieced things together and realized she was a rolling death squad. I suspect it's still possible to have more than one fatal accident before they take your license in most states.

    My dad gave his license up voluntarily after an accident. Nobody was injured and they weren't going to take it from him, he just decided he was too dangerous.
    U-H, your dad was/is (still with you?) a man of honor and ethics. I know you're proud.

  17. #17
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    I'd be the last one to advocate jailing a senior who's lost their 'edge' but won't give up; there are myriad other choices
    See? How many people want to jail them? That's the exact point I was making. Because of this, they have less to fear/worry about when driving.

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    Quote Originally Posted by K'Tesh View Post

    ...Here's the thing that scares me, what will it take for this driver, and others like him, to get their ability behind the wheel tested, and if necessary their licenses removed.
    I was under the impression, perhaps mistaken, that anyone can report an elderly driver in OR and request that they be retested. I believe there is a form at local DMV offices to do this; they don't accept electronic reporting. It was several years ago that I called to check on this and I have never actually done it, so perhaps I misunderstood the person who was explaining it to me.

    Of course retesting doesn't solve the problem of just how easy it is for dangerous drivers to pass, but it might just cause someone to realize that time is up and they need to make alternative arrangements.

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    Interesting story from the OP (I know K'Tesh...hey man!)...but although it describes the elderly gentleman as being confused and forgetful, there isn't one single word describing how this person actually drives, or was driving that night. Confusion and forgetfulness cross over all age groups, given various contributing factors. How the gentleman appeared in the fast food restaurants doesn't clearly indicate lack of fitness to operate a motor vehicle.

    In the circumstances of this particular situation, the visual cue of this person being aged allows an association that's easy for some people to make, that this person being confused and forgetful must be primarily due to their advanced age. And maybe that was the reason for the elderly gentleman's confused, forgetful state, or maybe it wasn't.

    In the apparent mental state that K'Tesh observed him, if the police officer had stayed to observe the elderly gentleman drive, would the officer have seen driving that was impaired? When an officer sees something out of sorts about the way someone is driving down the road, the characteristics of the driving is what gives the officer the pretext to stop the driver and subject the person driving to a battery of questions and tests to make a determination as to whether impairment is a factor in the driving.

    Okay. Try this idea: Without actually having seen the person drive, to check for general impairment, could the police officer have obliged the elderly gentleman to perform the tests that officers request of people that have been stopped for suspicion of impaired driving? Examples of tests I'm thinking of are the 'close eyes, bring your finger tips together', 'close eyes, arms out to sides, one foot in front of the other, heel to toe...'. Simple tests that require a fair amount of mental clarity and physical dexterity to do.

    Who is willing to draw up the criteria and tests to determine whether a person like the one observed in the fast food restaurants is qualified to operate a motor vehicle? If the criteria is simply forgetfulness and confusion, start preparing to take from behind the wheel, a lot of scatter brained teenagers, over-worked soccer moms, stressed out office workers, and so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    See? How many people want to jail them? That's the exact point I was making. Because of this, they have less to fear/worry about when driving.
    So seniors 'abuse the privilege' of being older, is that what you're saying? JAIL isn't always the right answer, or the best answer -- and that goes for EVERYBODY! Too f'n many people in jail for t*****s NOW, they're having to let REAL criminals OUT because there's no ROOM for 'em! How's 'mandatory sentencing guidelines' working for you now?

    Just because I don't want to send grampa and gramma to JAIL doesn't mean there's not something that can be applied as a deterrent! Hell, PUT THE ANKLE BRACELET ON 'EM! HOME DETENTION! IMPOUND THE F'N CAR! ("But they have limited/fixed income, they can't pay THAT!" Then, dammit, they won't be a hazard on the road anymore, will they?)

    Think of other things besides gray bars; the % of recidivism out there should tell you how much of a deterrent they are.

  21. #21
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    What a conundrum. Taking away the driving privilege from dottering seniors would render many of them housebound, and negatively impact their quality of life.

    America is beholden to the car, and it stinks.
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    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    What a conundrum. Taking away the driving privilege from dottering seniors would render many of them housebound, and negatively impact their quality of life.

    America is beholden to the car, and it stinks.
    Unless they have a neighbor close by who 'should' help them instead of the elderly person driving.

  23. #23
    Commander, UFO Bike K'Tesh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsbob View Post
    there isn't one single word describing how this person actually drives, or was driving that night.
    Hi wsbob,

    I should have mentioned that not only was he parked in the no parking area (the loading/unloading zone) of the Disabled Parking space, he was also parked crookedly. True, I didn't see him drive, but my concerns were raised by his confusion, and his forgetfulness. His advanced years did admittedly play a role, but if I had observed the same behavior in a younger person, I'd have thought that he was impaired too.

    I don't want to start a flame war over ageism, but there should be some way that allows the DMV to verify that any driver is still mentally and physically capable of operating a motor vehicle safely. Perhaps everybody should be retested (written and a driving (or virtual driving)) at the time that they renew their drivers license. I'd advocate that in the event of specific medical conditions (not determined by me, but by a panel of experts in the transportation and medical fields) licensing should be suspended until the condition is resolved. Appeals would be possible, but the licenses would then be placed on a more frequent renewal process if deemed necessary. To that, I'd add that there should also be a way of automatically being required to be retested following any "at fault" crash or incident (no appeal).

    In reference to Bekologist's post.. Being hit by a dottering senior could render someone else housebound (or worse), and negatively impact that person's (and their loved ones') quality of life.

    Perhaps we should all just go back to walking, riding bikes, trains, streetcars, and horses for ground transportation.

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    I agree that periodic retesting should be required for ALL drivers - how many people actually keep up with changes in traffic laws without any incentive to do so? And how many of us notice slowly deteriorating reflexes or eyesight?
    Last edited by johnin; 01-13-12 at 11:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnin View Post
    I agree that periodic retesting should be required for ALL drivers - how many people actually keep up with changes in traffic laws without any incentive to do so? And how many of us notice slowly deteriorating reflexes or eyesight?
    +1
    I have noticed my vision and reflexes deteriorating as I have aged, but these things are much easier to observe when cycling than when driving.

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