walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

what to do about DWO


This is interesting in several ways. I'm certainly familiar with the older-driver-isn't-particularly-safe problem. There are members of my extended family who I won't ride with if I have any choice in the matter, and who I'll go even farther to keep my kids out of the car when they are driving. For the most part, these aren't age peers I'm referring to. So I'm sympathetic to the concerns. I have quite a lot of sympathy for the but-I-HAVE-to-drive issue, altho I'll come back to that momentarily. And there is the tantalizing rich-people-feel-entitled problem that crops up whenever someone says Westchester County.

Going back to the but-I-HAVE-to-drive issue, my mother (who regular readers know I have nothing to do with anymore) doesn't drive. She got her license at some point in her youth, hit a dog, and refused to ever drive again. This was a decision actively encouraged by my father, who also wouldn't let her have access to the checkbook or credit cards -- altho she eventually renegotiated that. They live in Shoreline, WA, which is not an area that is either well served by public transportation (there's some) nor is it particularly walkable (altho it's better than where I live, and I often manage to walk places in town, altho not since I had A.). Her solution from when my oldest sister D. turned 16, until I moved out (about 15 years later), was to have various daughters chauffeur her to her doctor's appointments and shopping expeditions and so forth. This was just part of the deal -- I didn't have any choice in the matter. I didn't even _want_ to get a license when I was 16, but D. was moving to the east coast and C. was unreliable so I was at bat. There was a point, after an operation, where I left school to help my mother get through her morning routine, returning about an hour later, when I was in high school (no driving involved in this instance; it was a 2 block walk). Again, no choice on my part; this was just what had to be done; I didn't understand why my teachers made such a big deal about this until years later.

So that's one data point on the but-I-HAVE-to-drive issue.

One reason for not selling my Cap Hill condo is because its location is perfect for walking to the grocery store with a rolly cart to bring the goods home (other elderly folks in the building do this), walking to Any Kind of Doctor Known to Humanity, bus service to anywhere, etc. -- it's really the perfect place to live when you can't drive any more. I figure that's where I'm going to go when I can't safely drive any more. I'm thinking this way and I'm not yet 40, which gives you a sense of the kind of contingency planning I engage in reflexively. I can't _not_ think this way.

So that's another data point on the but-I-HAVE-to-drive issue.

Having had two kids by C-section, I've twice had to deal with (a) not being allowed to drive for weeks and (b) finding it pretty uncomfortable even to _ride_ in a car for a couple weeks.

Which is a third data point on the but-I-HAVE-to-drive issue.

T., when he was younger, _hated_ riding in the car. He'd scream and bawl and wail and generally be inconsolable. We did a lot of things on foot with a soft carrier and/or stroller, because we couldn't stand it. Like, grocery shopping.

Data point number four.

I could go on. My younger sister has a seizure disorder that until it was reliably controlled with medication prevented her from driving. She somehow made it through a decade or more of adulthood without driving.

Number five.

I'll stop with an anecdote from R. He told me once about a guy who was sentenced by a judge (after the nth DUI conviction) to live within walking distance of a liquor store. He doesn't recall where that was, but the judge's idea was apparently that if this guy couldn't stop drinking, he could at least arrange his life so he didn't have to drive to get his fix.

If you're old, and your vision or reflexes are getting kinda bad, and you are collecting tickets and dings at a rate unlike the middle years of your full life, do yourself a favor: rearrange your life so you don't have to drive. Ideally, at all. At least, minimize the amount of driving you do and hire or charm other people into driving you around. If you have to, guilt them into it.

If you love someone who is old and they have passed the point and become unequivocally dangerous to themselves and others, suck it up and risk their wrath. Take away their keys -- and help them rearrange their life as above. I get that there are issues. That was the whole freaking point of that list above -- to demonstrate that I've actually lived with similar restrictions, and have some plan in place for when those restrictions become permanent. Yes, I now have unusual access to resources. But I sure didn't at the time of most of the stories I told above.

In the meantime, I will note that I am not (yet) taking away the keys of those extended family members. Currently, I'm supporting them in their decisions to limit the hours they drive (e.g. not at night). There's a huge range of judgment involved here, and there's a lot of room for reasonable people to disagree about where to draw the line.

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