After all, elder drivers are the second-highest “at-risk” group of drivers after new/teenage drivers – according to accident stats. They are not uncommonly afflicted with physical maladies such as very poor eyesight (especially at night), limited mobility and dangerously slow reflexes. There are also problems such as dementia.
If the issue is impairment, does it really matter what caused it? Are you any less dead – is your car any less smashed up – if the person who hit you was senile (or sleepy) rather than drunk?
Yet “sobriety checkpoints are commonplace” – “senile citizen” checkpoints nonexistent.
Sobriety checkpoints are based on the idea that liquor (and other drug) impaired drivers constitute a threat to public safety. Ok. But how come so selective?
I’m not trying to give Them – you know, bureaucrats and politicians and other such vermin – ideas.
Just trying to make a point.
Old drivers are greatly indulged in this country, even when when they’re obviously past it – and arguably more of a danger to themselves and others than the guy who had a couple of beers with his dinner who has the bad luck to roll up on a “sobriety checkpoint.” Unlike the addled old coot doing 27 in a 45, the guy’s driving might be faultless – even if his BAC level is above the politically permissible maximum.
Consider, for instance, the oldster who can barely see, who wanders across the double yellow, jumps curbs, breezes through red lights, hits the gas instead of the brake pedal – maybe even drives through a plate glass window.
The same cop who will eagerly bust me or thee for not wearing a seatbelt or driving 10 MPH over the limit will patiently follow the elder driver meandering along at 27 in a 45, drifting over the double yellow and then back onto the shoulder – without lighting up his flashers or even pulling the road hazard over. The chances of the cop issuing el viejo a ticket for obstructing traffic are slim to nil.
We’ll all be old someday. I actually had a cop tell me once. Translation: It’s ok to endanger others by your driving if it’s because of biological processes as opposed to one drink too many.
Being ancient and addled is an acceptable form of impairment – treated gently by the law. That sweet old lady who just ran over a bunch of people didn’t mean any harm. Well, probably neither did the drunk driver. He was just having a few with his buddies and it got out of control.
Same goes for the drowsy driver who just nodded off… and veered into the oncoming lane f traffic, causing a horrendous wreck.
The point is, the cause of being impaired should be irrelevant as a legal matter. It is arbitrary and unfair to target “drunk drivers” – but not Sleepy Sams and Distracted Debbys.
Or Senile Sams, for that matter.
And the most equitable way to go about weeding these impaired drivers out is by having cops out looking for signs of impairment: The person who is driving erratically, or much slower (or faster) than surrounding traffic, cutting off other cars, following too closely; weaving/wandering. That kind of thing. You know – actual evidence that the person is having a problem properly controlling his vehicle. The reason for his poor driving is – or should be – completely incidental.
Pull any such driver over and check ’em out. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with the aforesaid erratic/unsafe driving constituting probable cause for such on the spot screening – a pull-over, with an interview by the cop and (if he sees reason to) a breath test or whatever is necessary to establish whether the person has been boozing it up – or is just addled. It’s fair, it’s reasonable. It involves cause and effect; you have to do something to warrant the attention of the law.
What people do have an issue with is the system we now have of random – and arbitrary – enforcement. People are routinely stopped for absolutely no reason and forced to undergo a once-over by a cop, including Q&A and having the cop take a look inside your car. Whether you’ve “got anything to hide” is as immaterial to the question as giving the IRS carte blanche to just randomly “check” your financial records at whim, just because. Oh. Yeah. I forgot. They can already do that. But you get the point.
“Drunks” (even when they’re not even that) are crucified – but equally dangerous or even more dangerous “senile driving” (and sleepy driving and all sorts of other less-than-ideal driving) is given a pass.
Why? I suspect it’s because of the moralistic streak that America has. Mix in some Yankee self-righteousness and – presto! – you’ve got the makings of a crusade. Old people are just old. Sleepy people – well, we all get sleepy, don’t we?
But drinkers? Get thee behind me, Satan!
Or something along those lines… .
Throw it in the Woods?