Stop the insanity
Anyone who watched the Pittsburgh TV news Friday night or Saturday no doubt saw the coverage of the incident at the Giant Eagle in Murrysville. According to police, an 86-year-old man behind the wheel of a 1993 Oldsmobile (what else) was backing his car out of a parking space when he bashed into a vehicle behind him. At that point, he surged forward, out of control, toward the store's entrance and went up on the sidewalk, hitting an unfortunate 48-year-old woman who was slammed so hard into the front glass door that her body shattered it. The octogenarian then backed up before lurching forward again and smashing into a pillar in front of the store. The woman who was struck had multiple open fractures and chest injuries that required her to be flown to a Pittsburgh hospital. The driver also was flown for treatment. The woman who was hit by the car in this case, believe it or not, is one of the lucky ones. Sometimes people die because family members, doctors and even our state legislators refuse to confront the problem of the dangers posed by elderly drivers who no longer have any business being behind the wheel of a multi-thousand-pound piece of machinery. Much in the way that we need to stop the hazardous practice of people driving while they gab away or text on their hand-held cell phones, somebody needs to address the issue of members of the "greatest generation" mowing down people with their Oldsmobiles and Buicks. Family members need to do whatever is necessary, even reporting their loves ones to the proper authorities, if necessary, to get their parents and grandparents off the roads when they start posing a threat to themselves and others. Doctors need to do their duty by reporting those who should have their licenses pulled. And our legislators should have the courage - yeah, right - to impose mandatory driver re-testing after a certain age. Those who object to these measures often argue that young people have more accidents. Maybe they do, but most of those young drivers, through experience and the maturation process, will eventually become good drivers. Unfortunately, there's really no substitute for experience when it comes to improving one's driving skills. But those young people aren't wrecking because they forget which pedal makes the car go and which one stops it, or which gear makes the car go forward and which one makes it go backward. And those elderly drivers aren't going to get better with advancing age. For most of them, it's a one-way trip toward being a threat to all of us.