Before I begin writing, I must state a disclaimer - I am old. I will turn 73 in May. For the record, I believe that I am still a decent driver. I know my limitations and won't take the wheel in the dark. Also, I stay at the speed limit and follow the rules of the road.
Living in Florida has been a revelation. There are so many senior citizens here that we are bound to have contact with them every day. For the most part, we enjoy that. However, dealing with senior drivers has been a challenge.
For some reason, senior drivers believe that they deserve special treatment when they get behind the wheel. The other drivers must watch out for them and try to deduce their next move. Anyone who drives on Florida's roads must be a defensive driver.
An example - a friend of ours was badly hurt when a woman driver sideswiped his golf cart. She had not looked carefully both ways and blissfully charged out of her garage right into the golf cart. Many senior drivers believe that a car always has the right of way. So, if you are riding a golf cart or a scooter, you must be seriously aware of the surrounding traffic.
In another case, a gentleman was parking his vehicle at the grocery store. He wanted to get as close as he could to the front door, so he sat in the car with the motor running and watched for someone leaving the store. When he saw a suitable parking spot ready to open up, he pulled his car directly behind the other vehicle. Of course, he didn't give the other driver enough room to pull out, so both drivers were aggravated. They blew their horns at each other and waved their fists. Finally, the man in the parked vehicle got out of the car and told the over-eager driver to back off. As he did back off, he managed to bump into a cart pushed by an elderly lady and scared the beejeebers out of her.
Do you know how to take a corner? You turn on your blinker a while before making the turn. Then you get into the correct lane for the desired turn. When the turn comes, you keep a steady speed and make the curve.
Well, some of our senior Floridians have no idea about this process. They seldom remember to use blinkers. They also wait until the very last possible moment to get in the correct lane. Once there, they immediately smash on their brakes and take the corner at a snail's pace. Plus, when they make the turn, most of their car is in the wrong lane.
When driving on a divided highway, many elderly drivers forget the rule "Stay right except to pass." They might be planning a left turn in 20 miles, so they hug the left lane and go 35 miles an hour, preparing for the turn. All the traffic backs up, but our senior driver stays unaware and persists in his left lane travels.
Another problem arises when our seniors get behind the wheel of a golf cart. For many of them, the road is just a suggestion. Never mind the fact that cart paths are clearly marked and safely situated to make everyone's life easier. If he chooses to go across the grass and blaze his own trail, the rest of us are supposed to be prepared to duck for cover. There's one rebellious guy who never fails to drive his cart right through the miniature golf course, making the players jump out of the way.
I giggle when I see some of the women in our development who have baby carriages for their dogs. This practice is another whole issue about driving. Sometimes the dog wants to walk, so a leash is attached and the woman tries to multi-task - maneuvering the carriage while allowing the dog to walk (or in some cases, run) beside it. I have seen quite a few carriages going merrily down the road solo while the owner tries to corral her pup.
Our front gate has an electronic arm that goes up after our car's decal is recognized. Someone told me that the arm needs to be replaced regularly, because some folks just can't get it through their heads that it won't go up unless you slow down enough for the machine to register your car. Just another example of the fun and games abounding in a senior citizen development!
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.