Thursday, 21 June 2012

There are times when

I wish we did have a car.
The Senior Cat, my father, made the decision to turn his licence in several years ago. It was a responsible and sensible decision.
He could have gone on driving. The doctor had assessed him as fit to do so at the compulsory medical. He had even had some refresher driving lessons and the instructor had said he was competent. He passed another driving test with no problems. But, he did not feel comfortable aboutdriving.
My father was never very keen on driving. He was tense behind the wheel. I admit I worried because he was, if anything, over cautious. He had kept the car because it was useful, especially when we live some distance from any public transport and that public transport is not frequent.
Breaking his leg and having an enforced period of driving did not help. In order to help him out then his doctor signed the form to allow him taxi vouchers. These temporarily allowed him to use a taxi for half fare when he needed one. He also bought a gopher.
His doctor was sensible. He did not argue with the decision or try to persuade my father to go on driving. He turned the taxi vouchers into a permanant affair and said the gopher was a good idea. My father turned his car over to a much younger friend who needed one.
I do not drive either. I never did learn to drive. I have too many spatial problems to be safe behind the wheel of a car. We remain without a car.
It is something we have learned to live with. It is perhaps something other people learn to live with too. There are complaints from our Equal Opportunity Commissioner in today's paper that the medical and driving tests for older people are discriminatory. From the point of view of the law she has to administer they appear to be. There are younger people who should take medical and driving tests and do not do it. Sensibly all people should do it. Many doctors permit their patients to go on driving long after it is safe. They do not want to "take away someone's independence" if they are older or "their livelihood" if they are younger. I remember one disability activist who drove long after it was safe but he insisted it was his right to drive. I know other people who are unfit to drive but retain their licences with the connivance of their doctors and their families.
We probably need an independent government unit that administers medical tests as well as driving tests. GPs should probably be required to forward by law information about conditions that may information that may impact on an individual's ability to drive safely. After all anyone on the road has a responsibility not just to themselves but to all other road users.
But it is raining steadily right now and I can understand why people want to retain their licence to drive!

1 comment:

jeanfromcornwall said...

This is a tricky one! My daughter and her husband do not have driving licences - but they do have two young children. They live in a town where public transport is reasonably good and the other grandparents are just round the corner so they manage well.

In the little town where we used to live there were many aged people whose driving was legendary - but not in a good way. They tended to keep off the main roads, and we all looked after them and made allowances because the car was their last thing that made them able to live independently, and not have to be "put in a home".