If you toss drunks out of the picture, the two most dangerous groups of drivers on the road are the very young and the very old.
The very young, because their brains often fail to comprehend that actions have consequences, and the very old for the reason that faculties grow more feeble with age.
Ergo, the newspaper often does its sad duty to report what happens when youthful adrenaline mixes with gasoline, and sometimes what happens when an old person mistakes the accelerator for the brake pedal.
There ought to be ways of making both groups safer. That was the aim of a recent Arizona survey conducted by WestGroup Research, which sought to identify what steps the public would find most palatable.
One result: Most people think kids should have to wait until they’re 18 to get licenses. Another: Don’t ban people over 75 from behind the wheel, but make sure they get tested much more often.
The first of those findings sounds a bit onerous, the second quite reasonable.
While young drivers cause a lot of carnage, not all of them are irresponsible.
Some are ready at 16, and some actually need to drive at that age, especially to their jobs. Leaving 16 as the licensing age would cause no great harm as long as certain conditions are imposed.
The major condition should be that a license issued at 16 is understood to be conditional. It can be kept as long as there are no moving violations or at-fault accidents. It can be revoked the minute a young driver demonstrates he or she is too immature to enjoy the privilege. Knowing of that swift and certain consequence might keep some of these young leadfoots in line.
As for older drivers, it does not seem unreasonable to require annual mental and physical tests past a certain age. Someone who’s fine at 77 can be very much less so at 78. Yet current law allows licenses to be kept for years, with no regular checkups required.
Older people who consider that an inconvenience should be happy instead that they’re still able to drive to the MVD office one morning a year to make sure they’re safe on the road.
There’s no way to prevent all accidents caused by these drivers, but the law can be fine-tuned to minimize them. And it should be.