Selective Impairment

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I wish I’d filmed this one – but I was too busy swerving, trying to avoid a head-on collision.

I was  waiting at a “T” intersection, waiting for the light to go green so that I could cross the intersection, make a left turn and merge with southbound traffic. The light turned green, I began my turn . . . and came headlight-to-headlight with another car coming at me, driving the wrong way down the road.

Behind the wheel was an old lady wearing those opaque Old People oversized sunglasses – which to me is like seeing a guy guzzling straight from a fifth of Jack Daniels. It is a clue that there is a problem.

But the old coot glasses – and the certainty of, at best, really poor vision and probably glaucomic semi-blindness – are given a pass by law (and law enforcement) while the Jack Daniels results in merciless and brutal prosecution by the law and law enforcement.

Why the disparity?

Isn’t impairment the relevant consideration? Shouldn’t it be?

Of course, it isn’t.

If it were, old coots who can barely see – and advertise the fact by wearing those huge Old People oversized sunglasses – would be pulled over on sight and taken of the roads as aggressively as the law and law enforcement go after those who tipple, even if slightly (and even though their impairment is hugely debatable or at least, not established).

No, more.

It would be just as illegal for a person to get behind the wheel of a car wearing those Old People glasses – definitive proof that their vision is seriously impaired – as it is for anyone else to have even a single open beer in their hand.

Sseatbelt scofflaws are pursued with greater avidity than the glaucomic, enfeebled old.

The guy having a single beer in his car on his way home isn’t remotely “drunk” – legally or factually. Yet it is a crucifixion by the road offense even to pop the top. For your passenger to pop the top. You can be arrested for “drunk” driving if you are found sleeping in the back seat of your car. The engine stone cold, the car not even moving.

Meanwhile, the old lady . . .

The almost-blind – but sober! – are free to wander over the double yellow, drive the wrong way down streets, onto curbs, breeze through completely red lights  . . . because they are merely old.

They are therefore to be indulged.

We will all be old one day ( a cop actually told me so, once) and therefore we must be patient and understanding.

No matter the impairment.

Or, the damage.

It is striking that even the usual warble that is used to justify every sort of totalitarian tactic and imposition – saaaaaaaaaafety! – is never warbled when it comes to the glaucomic ancient among us.

Had the blind old bird crashed into my VW Atlas press car (thankfully, it was not my car) the old blind old bird would not have been dragged from her car, thrown over the hood and had her blood forcibly drawn. She certainly would not have been arrested.

Probably, the law enforcer who showed up would be solicitous toward the old bird; she is probably someone’s grandmother! He probably would have offered to give her a ride home.

Imagine the same scene except replace the blind old lady with a young guy in a truck with an open beer in his truck.

Selective impairment.

Selective enforcement.

And it’s not only the old and blind who get a pass.

Shitty driving generally is tolerated – so long as the person doing so isn’t drinking . . . or “speeding.” Literally every single day, on my way into town, I roll up behind a driver who cannot keep his car in between the painted lines on a mildly curvy stretch of road. They swing wide to the left (across the double yellow, into the opposing lane of traffic) and then metronomically swing wide to the right (two-thirds of the car off onto the shoulder, where someone might be walking or riding a bicycle).

They are never pulled over.

There are no “safety” checkpoints for them.

The last thing that is expected of anyone these days is competence behind the wheel. But tread over the politically incorrect line when it comes to drinking – or speeding – even when both are done competently and responsibly, with nothing to point at that could be adduced as evidence of impaired driving – and it’s roadside crucifixion time.

I left the old bird waiting to make her own left turn – from the wrong lane and facing the wrong way. I don’t think she even realized she was facing the wrong way.

But glaucomic grandma will not be taken off the road.

At least, not until she finally does kill someone.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. On top of all that Eric: The old people pay far less money for insurance than teenagers do. That used to piss me off when I was one, because I saw old people pull right out in front of traffic all the damn time. Teenagers are more apt to drive reckless on purpose; but they have lightening fast reflexes too.

    • Brian, you probably weren’t as good a driver when you were one as you thought. Seriously, I recall people my age making huge mistakes, stupid ones that resulted in lots of property damage and injury. I recall the same for some elderly drivers too.

      Insurance companies have been going up on rates for decades as you age even though you have a clean record and no claims for anything. Progressive more than doubled the rate on a friend’s Camry his wife had owned and driven before her death after he became the title owner. He’s never had an accident and hasn’t had a ticket in 45 years but that didn’t stop Progressive(sic) from screwing him.

      Different companies use a different age but once you reach that age, regardless of claims or tickets or lack thereof, your rates will climb steadily.

      My dad went from driving a little S 10 to an extended cab pickup with dark windows and a much higher profile. His insurance had already gone up with no tickets or claims. He often parked in a bad spot at a local convenience store and it was a great spot of backing into people who were just as much in the wrong for driving fast across behind parked vehicles at a 45 to them. He just started writing checks when he’d ding one to avoid insurance hickeys.

  2. In Norway I think that it is “hammer fall” if your eyesight is poorer that about 60 %. I.e. you see at 60 metres what a person with normal eyesight sees at 100 metres. If your eyesight is poorer than that, then your driving license will be revoked. However 60 % eyesight is not so bad and it is still relatively safe to drive with this vision remaining.

    One problem with old people is that some of them have a terrible attention and perception in traffic. They just don’t properly understand any more what is happening around them, and they don’t react correctly and quickly enough to what is happening.

    I will be 60 years old in a few days and I know that my attention and perception is poorer now than when I was in my twenties. Will I be sensible enough to stop driving when when I will be a danger for myself and other in traffic. I don’t know. Most people think that they are still competent enough and they wish to postpone the inevitable as long as possible.

    • Hi Jone,

      As is always the case, individuals vary. They age differently and some much better than others. Also, a driver whose baseline skill level is much higher than average will take longer to deteriorate to the level of the average driver, age notwithstanding. Put another way, a person who was a terrible driver in his 50s will be a much worse driver at 70 while a driver who was superb at 50 will probably still be better-than-average at 70.

      I hate one-size-fits all “solutions”! Especially those imposed at gunpoint…

    • I think that the main reason for perception problems in older drivers is that their doctors have them taking a dozen or so pills several times a day. Many people in their 50s are about as bad, taking all these drugs for one thing or another. All prescription drugs have side effects, which are “countered” by adding other drugs to the mix.

      The people I know who are my age (mid 60s) and older who aren’t on any prescription drugs, are much more aware and alert. Usually, I can tell if a fellow old fart is on meds just by trying to have a conversation with them. Those who can carry on a conversation without appearing to be talking to themselves or to someone not present are the one who don’t take any meds at all.

      Watch how people act in a crowd. If they are unaware that they’re walking into someone else as if they have no peripheral vision at all, they’re probably on HBP meds and a few other meds to counter the side effects. All of that shit fucks your mind up. Those are the drivers who cause trouble for other drivers, because their minds are clouded by their meds. They must be scared to death of dying so they’ll do anything a doctor says.

      I won’t take any of it. When I’m supposed to die, I’ll die, and until then I’ll live drug free. People who gobble pills all day make me want to slap the shit out of them and their doctors too.

  3. Plenty of old people with lots of time to vote. The AARP has a lot of political power.

    EXACTLY.

    Remember: the geezer generation is the one that is robbing you of your financial future by voting to keep the Social Security scam in operation, taking money out of your own retirement account and food out of your children’s mouths. That’s why they vote, and it’s also more than enough reason to hate their guts.

    Shitty driving generally is tolerated – so long as the person doing so isn’t drinking . . . or “speeding.” Literally every single day, on my way into town, I roll up behind a driver who cannot keep his car in between the painted lines on a mildly curvy stretch of road. They swing wide to the left (across the double yellow, into the opposing lane of traffic) and then metronomically swing wide to the right (two-thirds of the car off onto the shoulder, where someone might be walking or riding a bicycle).

    It’s not just shitty driving, but blatantly AGGRESSIVE driving that Porky is never around to witness or put a stop to. Twice within the last week I’ve nearly been T-boned/run off the highway, DURING RUSH HOUR, by assholes weaving in and out of traffic with barely a half a car length between themselves and the next driver and cutting me off, almost causing a multi-car accident. And of course Officer Shitferbrains was nowhere to be found within five miles of the scene.

    Donut-gobbler is, of course, off writing some working stiff a piece of paying paper for having a license plate bracket that covers too much of his plate (yes, our state actually has such a dipshitty law on the books), or some similar fucktardery and is too “busy” to actually deal with REAL lawbreakers who actually cause potential harm. Then again, Porky probably knows that anyone who drivers so blatantly aggressively is probably a psychopath who wouldn’t hesitate to draw firepower on Lardass Lawman. The very thought of pulling such a person over probably causes him to shit his oversized khaki uniform pants. Better and safer to pick on an unassuming mundane who wouldn’t DREAM of resisting.

    • I know where the cop is. He’s waiting for you to become frustrated at some arse and pull you over for doing what it takes to get around/away from him. Let’s just say I know from personal experience. No ticket though.

      Encountered someone driving aggressively in this morning’s commute. Cuts me off just before a red signal then falls asleep or something and sits there after the green and everyone in front of him (or her?) had gone.

    • Hi Lib,

      Yup, same here in VA.

      I have been pulled over several times in press cars, which have odd plates – and sometimes, brackets around the perimeter. The “hero” spends 15 minutes hassling me over this, usually lets me go after grokking it’s a press car and I’m a journalist. Meanwhile, someone just got t-boned by an oblivious Clover…

  4. I remember my high school shop teacher being pretty pissed about an old lady that had run into him and his recently restored Mustang. Not only did the hero not ticket her (it was very obviously her fault), he gave her a ride home!

    There was this off ramp from the interstate that seemed to draw lots of wrong way drivers (not just oldsters) for some reason. I was coming down it one day, and some old man was calmly coming down the wrong way, people going to the right and left to avoid him. He would have made it to the interstate itself if it hadn’t been for a quick thinking truck driver behind me who managed to block the ramp finally making him stop.

    They redid the end of that ramp literally three times to try to stop the wrong way drivers. Nothing worked, tons of signs including huge overhead signs, relocating the end, huge curbs, jersey barriers etc. They ended totally relocating it when the entire cloverleaf was replaced to make it stop. Several fatal accidents at that one ramp.

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