The reality of driving while old

I think I’m getting old. Yes. Me. Well, I guess 58 isn’t “old”, and so I will amend that to I think I’m getting older. Yes, that sounds better. Much better in fact.

I think I’m getting old. Yes. Me. Well, I guess 58 isn’t “old”, and so I will amend that to I think I’m getting older. Yes, that sounds better. Much better in fact.

I’ve always been a good driver. No accidents (knock on wood) and only one speeding ticket in my youth. Considering that I have been driving for 42 years I’d say that’s a pretty good record.

Vehicles of any sort or size never scared me. I remember driving a U-Haul truck from Washington State to Castlegar when I was only 24. That was an adventure and never once did I have one iota of fear or apprehension about driving such a big rig. In my earlier years I used to drive a tractor. No big deal.

So why is it I was a nervous wreck on the road when I was recently out with a friend in Casa Grande, Ariz.?

Have you ever seen one of those blue-haired ladies in her car fearfully hanging onto the steering wheel with the death grip, all hunched over the steering wheel, eyes staring straight ahead?

That was me.

After a while my friend offered to drive and I readily accepted. Thinking back, I don’t think she necessarily offered out of the kindness of her heart, but rather out of self-preservation.

When I got home I told my husband about our ladies’ day out and it came up in the conversation about my friend taking over the driving duties.

“What?” he said.

“Are you getting old on me, or what?” he added as he shook his head in disbelief.

Since then I have pondered my decision to hand over the wheel to my friend and have yet to determine why I did that.

I could offer that it was a strange city and I was outside my comfort level. But since when did being outside my comfort level ever bother me?

Or was it the fear of the terribly aggressive drivers in that state? If you have ever driven in Arizona you know that running red lights is common, as is tailgating, road rage, excessive speeding and elderly Snowbirds on the road who really shouldn‘t be driving.

It did get me to thinking about driving and aging. It seems it was just a few years ago my siblings and I were discussing whether it was time to ask mom if she would hand over her driver’s licence. It was a serious conversation as we knew that procuring her license was a step not lightly taken. Luckily for us, we never did get to that point, although I suspect we should have had that conversation with her sooner than later. Every time mom was on the road it was to the detriment of others in her way.

Which brings me back to the earlier event with my friend.

I have never really thought about what it means to hold a driver’s licence until now and I realize it is both a luxury and a privilege.

Should I live long enough, there will be a point when I will have to consider if I am a threat on the road. Or, that decision will have to be made for me. It’s not pleasant to contemplate, but I hope that the right thing is done, if not by me, then by someone who cares enough to step up.

Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good, but you have to trust in yourself.

If you know someone who shouldn’t be driving maybe now would be the time to have that conversation with him or her.