31 January 2015
I want you to picture this likely yet frustrating scenario that I am sure you have experienced at one point or another in your life. It is a dreadful Monday morning; your alarm never went off as you realize you woke up late for work. You miss breakfast and barely get ready as you sprint to your car in order to hit the road to attempt to get to work on time. However, there happens to be terrible traffic on your way as you only have ten minutes to make it. Making matters worse, not only is there traffic but also you are stuck behind the world’s most terrible, slow and inadequate driver known to man. Who do you blame for being late to work that morning? You would likely blame that specific driver! Now, when imagining that scenario, there could be a few drivers that come to mind. For me, one specific driver stands out far beyond the rest. It is none other than the dreaded senior citizen driver. So today, I am here to argue that seniors - over the age of 70 - should not be allowed to drive.
The first premise supporting my argument that seniors should not be allowed to drive is that seniors experience a decline in their overall physical health. Experts and research have concluded over the years that there are major physical factors, which contribute to the elderly winding up in car accidents. There is no denying that all humans age. We are born, grow, live, and die. There is also no denying that as we grow and age, we do and will experience many bodily changes that for the most part are inevitable. These changes usually occur around the age one becomes a senior, which, in the United States, is the age of 70. Prominent examples of physical changes that occur among the elderly include loss of hearing, eyesight, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition. These changes precipitate a huge problem for the senior driver, which affects not only their own safety but also the safety for other drivers around them. For example, according to the National Institute on Aging, “older drivers have much more trouble seeing things clearly” (Older Drivers: How Aging Affects…). Glare is a major problem that results in thousands of car crashes yearly due to oncoming streetlights, headlights, or even the sun. Granted, it is much harder for senior drivers to see people, objects or movements outside these situations due to the fact their eyes become much more sensitive and they need more time to adjust.
Another example of physical impairments hindering driving is the decrease in muscle composition with age. Driving and operating a vehicle requires the use of several different body movements and contractions. Some of these components include a startling 80 percent of people over the age of 70 suffering from inflammation of the joints -- otherwise known as “arthritis” (SeniorDriving.AAA.com) -- which actually makes turning and flexing extremely difficult and painful. In addition to these symptoms, their limited range of motion and low flexibility levels restrict their ability to hold and maneuver the steering wheel or even press down the brake and gas pedal. We can see here that seniors’ physical impairments can and do affect their proper driving etiquette; they are not as fit to drive as the younger population, making it much more likely that they may cause a car crash.
The second premise supporting my argument that senior citizens should not be allowed to drive is that seniors experience a decline in their overall mental health. As I have discussed, not only does physical health begin to deteriorate, as we grow older, but also our mental health does as well. There may be ways to delay these cognitive changes in the brain, and some changes may not occur significantly until 70 years of age, but all seniors’ daily lives – including their driving abilities – are affected in some way. Prominent symptoms that occur most commonly in the elderly include “short term memory, attention loss,