How Old is Too Old to Drive?

Yesterday, a man lost control of his car, which jumped the curb near an elementary school and hit 11 people, 9 of them school children.

That in itself is unfortunate, but the story gets prominent national attention because the driver, Preston Carter, is 100 years old:

Four of the children were seriously injured when Preston Carter backed his blue 1990 Cadillac into the victims, who were on their way to buy snacks from a vendor across the street from Main Street Elementary School, authorities said.

The victims ranged in age from 14 months to 48 years old. The children, some of whom attend the school, were in stable condition Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Carter, a Los Angeles resident who will turn 101 on Sept. 5, has a current driver's license and no history of traffic violations, the Department of Motor Vehicles said. The only restriction on his license, which is valid until 2013, is that he wear corrective lenses.

Ruben Vives and Robert J. Lopez of The Los Angeles Times report: Link (Photo: Jay L. Clendenin/LA Times)

Should There Be An Upper Age Limit for Driving?



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Recently, I got stuck in traffic behind the most terrifying driver I've ever seen. She was swerving in and out of the lane, at one point driving completely in the oncoming traffic's lane. Her speed was erratic, she got herself stuck in traffic cones at one point, and she scared me senseless. She was a danger to herself, and to everyone around her. I thought she must be drunk or high, but when I got a look at her, I realized she was just very, very old, and potentially heavily medicated. I drove near her for as long as possible because for some reason I just wanted to watch her and make sure she was ok. We finally turned different directions, but I still think of her sometimes and wonder if she made it to her destination safely.

Since that day, I've worried about older drivers. I don't think there should be an age cutoff, since infirmities set in for different people at different times, but I would advocate for some kind of testing.

I've also joked that once my parents get old enough, I might put a "How's my driving?" bumper sticker on their cars with my number on it, because all I could think about when I saw that woman was how much I wanted to let her kids know what was going on, to let someone know that she wasn't safe.

My parents don't think that joke's particularly funny.
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Age-defined *anything* is a bad compromise, be it for drinking, voting, having sex, driving, military service, etc., as people mature and deteriorate at different ages. Though I realize there's no other easy way to set limits.
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