Yeah, I mean it. I’m getting ready to hand over my car keys! And I’m far from having to. In fact I’m a really good driver. Sure, I drive a little too fast sometimes (although never more than about 10 mph over the limit). And I move in and out of lanes effortlessly, careful to never cut off another car. I always, and I mean always, am aware of all the cars around me so if I have to swerve quickly I know where to turn. In fact, when I was teaching my grandson to drive I would test him about whether there were cars on his left or right (for the record, he passed the test). I look three or four cars ahead so I can anticipate problems. I don’t text and drive. I don’t even listen to the radio or play music when I’m in traffic so I don’t get distracted.
Why Hand Over The Keys
And yet, I’m getting ready to hand over my keys. Why, you may ask? To be totally honest, I’m not sure. But recently I vacationed in St. Thomas and in a rental car I comfortably navigated the hilly, windy roads. There were no close calls. I confidently drove on the left side of the road, sure-handedly drove around roundabouts, and approached blind curves without freaking out my family and friends with me. But it hit me that this is now becoming an overwhelming responsibility that I don’t look forward to continuing for too much longer.
So the likely scenario will be that when visiting distant shores, or even at home when driving at night, I will defer to other drivers when possible. I may take public transportation or ride share services like Uber
Driving As An Older Driver
Some nine years ago I took a Liberty Mutual Insurance Pop-up Senior Driving Course in which I donned a suit designed to simulate an older driver. The suit restricted my movement and decreased my mobility. I had to drive through an obstacle course, dodging traffic cones. I had to do a U-turn. I had to parallel park. I had to back up when I could barely turn my head! I had to get in and out of the car and adjust all the mirrors and seats. All of that was a whole lot more difficult because the suit restricted me so much. Yes, it was an exaggeration of what it’s like to be an older driver. And today, I’m not that close to the level of degeneration that the senior suit caused. Or am I? I have a recurring pain in my leg that emanates from a pinched nerve in my back. If I need to, will I be able to react quickly enough to slam on the brakes? My back surgeon restricted me from driving for a full month after I had a bi-level fusion in my lower back. He said it was because I was a danger to other drivers since I would definitely not be able to move my foot from the accelerator to the brake fast enough.
So what about now? Am I a danger to other drivers and my passengers? We all are to some degree. But no, I can confidently say I am still a better driver than most. The question, as I posed above is, do I want that responsibility? For the time being, sure. I can handle it. And I can restrict my drinking and distractions. But as I also posed above, if I have a reasonable option, I’m more than happy to hand over my keys.