By Jordan W. Charness
I had the good fortune to spend part of the winter vacation in Florida. I went down a little later than the usual holiday season and instead of the cold rainy weather everyone else complained about, I was treated to bright skies and sunny, sunny days. Driving through South Florida is an interesting experience. I believe this part of the country has the largest concentration of older drivers in North America and it seems like every one of them slowly drives a large, American-made luxury automobile.
The pace of driving is somewhat slower down there and rush-hour begins around 3:30 p.m., when many people head out to catch the early bird dinner special which starts at four. Morning rush-hour seems to be less of a hassle, and because driving distances are so great, traffic is spread out over a large area. All of this is pretty good because many of these drivers are senior citizens with slightly diminished physical capacities.
Driving is a privilege and not a right. The rules deciding who is allowed to drive are set out by provincial or state governments and each one may set up different rules.
In Quebec, the Societe l’assurance automobile Quebec (S.A.A.Q.) is one of the organizations charged with making suggestions to the government on how to regulate drivers. Their recent publications have emphasized certain principles that should be followed by senior citizens in order to diminish the stress and fatigue caused by driving.
Although any person, including senior citizens, with a valid and unrestricted driver’s licence is allowed to drive at any time, the S.A.A.Q. nevertheless suggests that the following driving activities are more stressful than others and should therefore be voluntarily avoided by those who do not feel that they are completely up to the task on any given day.