View Full Version : How Old is Too Old

Alloa Akbar
14th Oct 2008, 14:32
I read this yesterday,

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Hampshire | Biker killed day after retiring (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hampshire/7666943.stm)

the story starts off sad, but when I got to the bit about the age of the driver responsible I nearly blew a gasket.. what the hell was a 93 year old doing on the road anyway??

I'm sure somebody on here knows someone who is 106 and still has control of their bodily functions and could fly a 747 under Sydney Harbour bridge blah blah blah, but seriously.. surely after the age of 70 a Mandatory driving test every 5 years is in order.. or is there such a thing and this selfish old fool fluked his way through it??

Either way, consequences of the old pillock's actions are far reaching. The irony is that I bet its his first ever accident.. not like these young speed merchants of today eh?? Puh-leeze!

Rant over.

PS Yes I am a motorcyclist, yes I used to live in Hampshire and yes i think people who are too old to control a vehicle should be treated with the same contempt as drunk drivers.. Whats the difference?

14th Oct 2008, 14:39
My father was in mid rant about some doddery old buffoons driving one day when my mother pointed out that he was probably (at seventy) older than the target of his ire. He put the car up for sale next day.

14th Oct 2008, 14:45
Think a compulsary medical to check eyesight (as in proper optician type not just a 'Read the letters' chart test), hearing, reflexes etc., might be a more useful plan. It's those things that are probably the cause of more sad incidents like the one mentioned rather than outright crap driving, it would also be much easier to implement. Unfortunately deterioration due to age creeps up on people, a regular medical would help identify this earlier and hopefully before accidents occur.

I recall many years ago whilst learning to drive HGV's, my instructor commented "Why do I have to get a new medical every year after 65 to keep my 60mph HGV yet some 85 year-old can buy a 150mph Cosworth without any checks?" Not sure if I agree with him but he had a point I guess.

14th Oct 2008, 14:51
Don't forget Paul Newman.

14th Oct 2008, 14:52
Well, my Uncle Bruce from Adelaide once flew a 747 under Sydney Harbour Bridge, without pissing himself. And he's just turned 106.
You just can't make this shit up, you know.

14th Oct 2008, 15:14
When one reaches 70 in the UK the DVLC sends a little letter for them to sign as to them being ok to drive. The 70 year old sends the letter back (no medical) and all is tickeady boo.:ugh:

Pontius Navigator
14th Oct 2008, 15:21
At least they have a licence.

Rather too many under the age of 70, say 20-30, do not have a licence, tax or insurance.

Even when caught by the police they get a 3 year ban and told to take the test concurrently with their existing ban.

yeah, right.

14th Oct 2008, 15:23
On a serious note, me Dad is 86 and still drives.

He regularly hitches up the beemer to his caravan and heads across La Manche for warmer climes.

I met up with him this year. He is feckin dangerous. He cannot read the signs; me Mum (81) deciphers them for him. His judgement of speed v distance makes his overtaking more than just 'interesting'.

Had it out with him, I did. All this is true.

'Dad, you're just getting too old to be driving much further than Tesco's'.

'No I'm feckin not!'

'Yes you are. You can't see half the bloody cars on the road properly and then people have to brake or panic to get out of yer way'.

'Well', he says. 'I'm just like any other feckin BMW driver then, ain't I?':ugh:

Alloa Akbar
14th Oct 2008, 16:22

As much as your father must be infuriating (aren't they all??) but he does have a point all the same.. lol

I definately think an annual medical and not just a check to see if you can write your own name is in order. Imagine if those rules applied to pilots??

14th Oct 2008, 17:08
What ... in real terms ... is the difference between a 93 year old's dangerous driving causing a death and the dangerous driving of a twenty five year old causing a death? It's very easy to blame the former case on the age of the driver ... do we blame the second case on that too? And if we do, then what do we consider to be a "safe" age for a driver?

Alloa Akbar
14th Oct 2008, 18:18

Funnily enough as I wrote the original post, it did spring to mind that it is possible to obtain a drivers licence at the age of 15 in my State.. now THAT is monumentally stupid.

The main crux of the argument is that at say 21, said yoof is actually physically able to control a vehicle, if young Kev or Chardonnay choose to bring mayhem and destruction to our roads, then rightly we should throw the book at them, its a conscious decision to break the law. The problem with the coffin dodgers is that they aren't actually breaking the law, indeed they are complying with it whole-heartedly, however they sometimes find themselves faced with a situation brought on by lack of antcipation and response times. I think the rules should be tightened so that those on the road are actually physically equipped to be there.

And of course Jail anyone under the age of 25 caught driving.. period.:E

Loose rivets
14th Oct 2008, 18:28
This is something I feel quite strongly about. I posted on it the other day...or was it weeks ago, all the same when you get old.

Right now, I'm reeling from the disappointment of my not being able to be where I want to be - when I want to be, causing the ‘loss' of a MB SL600 That's a V12 -- c 400 hp into two seats. I posted pictures of it last year. Very sexy bit of kit. But it was sold when I got back -- for the derisory price that I had offered for it. It really was the only car I'd driven for a long time that had the grunt that just seems to fit with my mind-set.

I'm now counting the months until I'm 70. F:mad:k it. How did that happen? Mostly, I don't feel any different to when I was 45. Despite saying this, my driving was far and away the best at that age, riding the hottest super-bikes of the day, and driving a Supra, then a Supra turbo etc.. The beginnings of maturity coupled with thirty years of driving, had me at a competency peak. I'd only dare say that in hindsight.

Going back a bit, I was standing in my garage at home, when there was a huge bang. A genteel lady had grabbed for her tilting shopping and driven her almost new car into one of the trees that lined our road.. The bang was partly the air-bag busting the screen. After helping her for a while, she said she had to go because she was on tea duty at the woman's institute...couldn't let the ladies down. Cool! Her husband paid the price. He was the main insured, and because of age, they wouldn't insure him again...even though he wasn't even in the car. That's fair, isn't it? Get the old fekkers off the road.

Now it's getting perilously near to being my turn. What will the insurers say when I'm 70? "You can't share the roads with all these new drivers; people that have no concept of real observation or handling, wouldn't be safe for you, would it?" For them it's just bean counting and for the young ******* it's just a computer game with death as the penalty. We certainly need to get the old duffers out of their way.

Already the insurers in Texas have made rumblings about age. Small increase this year...having argued down from a huge increase to pay for the hurricane. Took a week the fight that one. Anyway, driving one of the hottest 4 door cars is going to get costly soon. Bringing it home with me is sounding like a non-starter. We aged will probably be relegated to Sinclair C5s. Or foot path only Mobility Scooters.

Now there's a thought...needn't be all bad. I was planning to soup-up my mother's Buggy. I wonder if I could make a miniature Tessler out of one... 0 - 60 in 3 seconds, while weaving in and out of little old ladies. That'd be fun. :E

14th Oct 2008, 18:49
It is ridiculous to be driving at that age without some form of regulatory control.

An old woman in her nineties knocked my wife down on a pelican crossing a couple of years ago. Luckily my wife was not badly hurt and witnesses and CCTV supported our case. My wife won £4,500 in compensation.

The Police stated that the driver was too old to attend Court and would be stressed by the situation. Would we drop the charges?

I stated that my wife could have been killed and that if the woman was fit enough to drive, then she was fit enough to attend Court!

The Police insisted so I told them we would drop the charges if she surrendered her licence. This she did and, hopefully, that part of Cheshire is a safer place!

The old bat was arrogant and would not admit liability. Her insurers paid out without her authority in the end.

The trouble is people don't like to admit they're too old to drive. My mother is one such other. She intended driving even though she knew she was unfit. I convinced her that it was irresponsible and reminded her of my wife's case. 'Luckily' she developed a medical condition and her licence was suspended for a year. Unbelievably she got a clean bill of health at the age of 81 and still drives - in spite of the fact she admits from time to time that she has 'dizzy spells' and her eyes 'seem to see back to front on occasion'.
Just ridiculous and disappointing that she should adopt that attitude.

I suggested she took a taxi everywhere, which economically must be the best option for her many short trips compared with the cost of owning and running a car. But to no avail.

Old people can be very arrogant, obstinate and unthinking. But I suppose that's part of what old age is about.

Even more reason to protect them from themselves and ensure the safety of the public in general.

FOK :=

14th Oct 2008, 19:54
Some years ago we had a trial flight person in his 70's pass out on the flight.

The CFI later visited the chap in hospital and met his elderly wife.
She said he had blacked out a few times in the past, whereupon the CFI asked who was going to collect his big Mercedes car?

Good job he didn't black out in the car and kill a few people in the process.

14th Oct 2008, 20:00
Old people can be very arrogant, obstinate and unthinking. But I suppose that's part of what old age is about.

You betcha, sonny. That's the fun part of it.

Just as with older machines, be they aircraft or steam boilers or shovels showing a crack or two, a methodical and scientific process of de-rating their capabilities in proportion to age might well allow the geriatric gang to toodle around in progressively more managed ways as their skills and capacities grow incrementally dimmer. The financial and social benefits of this are substantial - allowing older folk to serve themselves for a larger portion of life, or all of it, & so avoiding the costs and insults of visiting caregivers or long-term institutionalisation at public expense.

Technology is available to accomplish this.

The control part can be accomplished with the same sort of computer-game style gadgetry that allows small missiles to travel considerable distances and then fly in through someone's window. Lots of possibilities and variations there. Give it a year, maximum, from cold start to commercial products on the shelf at "reasonable" prices to safely steer granny's old-bat-mobile down to Tesco's and back, with nary a finger lifted by her, except to designate a destination with a plug-in data-key, or on a keypad.

Second part required is a suitable vehicle platform - something on the order of a geared-up electric (or hybrid) golf-cart seems likely. Top speed maybe 40mph - no steering wheel, perhaps no real windows, just a screen that Gran can watch to sample the view. To keep costs down, no emphasis on styling or elegance in the basic model. Exterior can be mostly a thick layer of insulating foam - which also acts as a first-rate collision absorber. Given the modest performance constraints, a year might suffice to have these rolling off a production line, as well.

Third part of this transportation revolution for old far*s is to accomplish the necessary changes in rules, regulations, insurance practices, tax schemes, etcetera. To be conservative, let's give that component about six decades for lead-time.

14th Oct 2008, 22:16
Well, I'd go one stage further and say that everyone should retake their driving test every, say, ten years. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

My 70 year old Uncle, although physically fit, is a menace on the roads. He legally drives on the UK roads without ever having taken or passed a driving test. When he drives from Derry to Belfast, he takes a flask and packed lunch as it takes him over five hours. I can do it legally in less than two!

I've been driving for over 50 years and never had an accident. Seen a lot but!



14th Oct 2008, 22:19
The other thing to consider is that many of these 'older' drivers have never taken a driving test in the UK. They had their licences issued under war conditions and just carried on after it....:ugh:

Captain Speedbird
14th Oct 2008, 22:22
Does he take sugar? Ha, I can't wait until you lot are 75 yourselves. Of course it'll be different then. You want to make the roads safer? Make the minimum age for driving 50. See how you like it.

14th Oct 2008, 22:27
0 - 60 in 3 seconds, while weaving in and out of little old ladies.

Ooh, you dirty old man, you! :E

14th Oct 2008, 22:34

Wait until we're 75? Minimum age 50? Do you live in Norfolk?

The whole point is that old age creeps up on one very insidiously and therefore one is the worst judge of ones fitness to be able to continue driving. Having a medical and/or compulsory retest would bring some objectivity to it.

If, when I'm 75, I am officially deemed to be medically unfit to drive, then I shall have to take it on the chin and make alternative arrangements including treatment for my allergy to buses. If I need to retake a test, I'm not that proud that I wouldn't be prepared to take further refresher lessons in order to keep my licence. Bit like flying really!

When my mother managed persuade her father to give up driving at 88, she made me promise that I would do the same thing for her if I ever felt unsafe with her driving. My mother's driving is quite good; it's her parking that shite. She's aware of it and is having a few lessons from an instructor to overcome her mental block as to the dimensions of PT Cruiser! It's down to attitude and awareness of the responsibility we all have in holding and using a driving licence.



Loose rivets
15th Oct 2008, 06:33
Got a mate back home who has just sold a GRX 1000 and his Fireblade, to obtain the latest and hottest fireblade. He meets with his son and others at Great Bently green on a Wednesday I think. Five hundred or more bikes turn up there, (well, it is the biggest village green in England), and they generally chew the fat.

Like my lot, he never touches a drop when riding.

While he's walking around looking at the kit, and the biker's birds, he has observed that most of the huge back tires are not worn much either side of the centre. His are worn to with a smidge of the edge. He uses a lot of power out of the bends.

He used to ride my Sunbeam when he was just big enough to reach the pedals.

He's five years younger than me.

Use it or lose it...that's how the brain works if you're lucky. So, a good burn up just stimulates the synapses and does nowt but good for the concentration.

However, I claim to have made up the saying, 'Randomness comes in lumps.' One could say that about old age. If we ever have a discussion about aging, I would extend my saying to that. 'Aging comes in lumps'. Nothing happens for ages, then there's an old bloke in yer photos. So, you have to be very aware of that sudden change.

To sum up my feelings, One should be allowed to drive until one of these sudden changes takes place. The age span at which this happens is very broad, so some of my age group are lethal already, and some will be sharp until they are 90 How do we make the decision to take a vital part of some folks life away? Here in Texas, you may as well chop someone's legs off as take their license away. It would be plain cruel. There has to be some sort of vetting. Another test is not going to work, we can't get the new ones tested, let alone take on another mass of candidates.

Computer testing of reaction and awareness would be good, with the emphasis on the latter. It would pick out those that really needed to be tested on the road, lessening to a fraction the numbers needing a test. I'd go along with that. Maybe...perhaps, if they could catch me.:E

15th Oct 2008, 07:16
Retest everybody every ten years when their licence is due for renewal. Logistically, probably not possible, but it would bring a lot of tears to a lot of people. 99% of drivers of any age could not pass the driving test.

As pilots it is hoped that most things are done by the book. When driving a car do you stray from the acceptable path?

henry crun
15th Oct 2008, 08:10
DON T: Judging from the posts on many motoring threads on JB I would say the answer to your last question is Yes.

Captain Speedbird
15th Oct 2008, 08:22
Seriously Whirly, my old man is safer at 82 with age related macular degeneration than I was at the alleged peak of my physical capability. Under 25 are killing probably 30 times more people than the over 75's. Oh, it makes amusing press when some confused old gent treads on the loud pedal instead of the brake and ends up in a shop window, everyone gets in a froth about the granny who goes the wrong way down a dual carriageway. But I can guarantee that for every one of those you show me, I can counter with dozens of testosterone fuelled tragedies perpetrated by young idiots who think they know best, and leave their immolated remains scattered over several counties. Anyone serious about safety would start with getting under 25 males off the road, followed by all females from the Indian subcontinent. Then anyone who thinks the public road should be reserved for the ubermenschen of society. As my dad told me 30 years ago, drive expecting everyone else to be idiots and you'll not be far wrong. Personal mobility is more important to the older generation as you will come to discover. Most old people do self regulate driving to their limitations. Which is more than can be said for the same person way back at the age of 21.
By the way, I didn't mean the bit about Indian women, but did you feel your reaction to reading that? Old people, grey squirrels and gingers....

15th Oct 2008, 11:28
"Anyone serious about safety would start with getting under 25 males off the road"

And where would that leave people like me, who have driven a wide variety of vehicles and trailers since the age of 17, never had (either caused OR been a victim of) so much as a scratch or any other accident, and am now 24 with over 3 years of flying experience as well as driving? Forced off the road because a few who happen to share my age group and gender are tits?

It doen't matter what age you are, its attitude and knowing your own limitations that counts. And frightfully few people do; however, some of us that do happen to be male and under 25, and should not be discriminated against because of it.

Captain Speedbird
15th Oct 2008, 11:41
Precisely. Thank you.

15th Oct 2008, 11:55
Nothing happens for ages, then there's an old bloke in yer photos.

That would coincide with the time you start noticing your father looking at you from the shaving mirror!:hmm:

15th Oct 2008, 13:09
"Precisely. Thank you."

Glad to be of service :p

Standard Noise
15th Oct 2008, 13:36
Ha ha ha, just read Whirls post about her mother having difficulty parking a PT Cruiser. My Mrs is 41 and she has trouble parking a Fiat bluddy Punto! If she has to drive the Discovery, it's a nightmare. Thank the good Lord it only happens if we've been out for dinner and I've managed to anethetise myself first!
I promised her a new car this year due to Noisy jnr coming of age (so he could have the Punto) and had only two conditions........
It would be my choice of engine size and it had to have Park Distance Control. She has trouble parking a shopping trolley, why would I spend half a years wages of a piece of German precision without having some insurance.;)
Gawd only knows what she'll be like when she's 70!?:ugh:

My 77yo next door neighbour, who only does about 1500 miles a year, can hardly turn his head without turning his entire body and couldn't be described as being in the peak of physical health. Still drives though.:eek:

15th Oct 2008, 14:10
I mentioned my Dad (86) earlier and his total unwillingness to consider giving up driving. This despite pressure from all his kids who reckon he is a menace on the roads.

Arguments come to naught. He has always been a bit of a petrolhead and loves his cars and the freedom they represent.

However, he was totally capable of recognising when he should stop flying. He is an ex-military pilot with many, many hours in different pieces of machinery. When he left he was able to afford a series of very nice - aerobatic - machines. I think he was about 70 when the Pitts was replaced by a Super Cub. At 76 he was still passing the medicals (every 6 months?) but decided he would only fly with a 'safety pilot'; normally some young sprog with a couple 100 hrs.

I performed this pleasant task a number of times and he was still very, very comptent.

The Cub went when he was around 80 yrs. He is now talking about buying a boat!

My question is, how can someone who made such sensible decisions about his flying not make those decisions when it comes to driving cars?

15th Oct 2008, 15:13
My driving is still okay going forwards but backing up?

35 years ago I worked in a ground-floor garage in an old building. Our garage had pillars dotted all over the place but I could just pull in backwards no problem. Nowadays I really have to watch what I am doing just backing into a parking garage space. Have the spaces got smaller or have the cars got bigger?

Out on the road I usually ride a motorcycle so that I must mostly be a menace to myself if anyone. No reverse gear there to worry about, at least.

One brother-in-law had an aged mother who had learned to drive in New York City. He bought her a little Plymouth Valiant as an in-town runabout, when it soon came to look like a sack full of golf balls.

One day I was out driving in my panel truck on a back road with sloping shoulders, just rolling along at 35 m.p.h. minding my own business. A car came up from behind at about 38 m.p.h., slowly overtaking, a white Plymouth Valiant. Uh-oh!

I looked across as it drew alongside and there was Ada, looking straight ahead through a cloud of cigarette smoke as if she were alone on the road, cool as a cucumber. But what about that car approaching? Eeek!

No probs, Ada just smoothly and positively pulled over into my lane with her rear wheel about even with my door. I hit the horn but there was no visible reaction; it was like hailing the Mary Celeste. I just put the old panel truck in the ditch, rumbling along through the weeds. Well, it had seen harsher treatment, I guess.

Fifteen minutes later, as I was tucking into my second beer to settle my nerves the telephone rang, Ada on the line but not calling about "that" of course. After a bit of chit-chat I just had to say, "Ada, you just ran me off the road!"


"You just came down the Sherwood Island Extension in your Valiant, didn't you? Well, that orange panel truck was mine and you ran me off the road!"

"What? There was plenty of room!" Yes, there was, after I went in the ditch!

Ada was living proof that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points as she sowed terror in our small town's traffic and her car became lumpier and lumpier. My brother-in-law was kept busy buying off the people Ada had abruptly nerfed out of her path while keeping her gaspers going and staring straight ahead in that classical New York City style of hers.

I secretly wanted her to take that goddam death chariot of hers back to New York City and have an encounter with a taxi there, the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. Instead, I think the little car finally succumbed to its injuries and then Ada had a stroke that took her off the road so that settled that.

Alloa Akbar
15th Oct 2008, 16:32

it's her parking that shite.

You have got to be kidding me!!!

I'm thinking Detached apples, tree's and short distances here...:p