Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: When is it time to say ‘no’ to driving?

JULIE LANE PHOTO In the name of safety, where a YIELD sign is currently painted on the roadway on the southern part of Waverly Place where it meets Grand Avenue, a stop sign is expected to be erected shortly.

I remember how important it was for me as a teenager to get a driver’s license. I appeared at the motor vehicle bureau on my 16th birthday, birth certificate in hand, to get my junior license learner’s permit.

Now, more than a half-century later, I find myself looking at those signs that tell us it’s time to stop driving. 

I went to the Senior Center last Wednesday to listen to Shelter Island’s Dr. Nathanael Desire speak about when it’s time to limit or stop driving and how we can convince loved ones that it’s time.

Dr. Desire stressed that driving means independence for the elderly just as it meant independence for me as a 16-year-old. And as we know, people are loathe to give up their independence.

On this Island, not being able to drive means not being able to go to the post office, the dump, church and the supermarket, let alone get off the Island occasionally.

The doctor pointed out that if we know someone who clearly should not be on the road, that person should be made aware of the transportation opportunities available here such as carpools, buses and taxi services.

The individual driver is sometimes the last to know. We should ask friends, “How’s my driving?”

They’ll let you know if you are not driving safely, Dr. Desire noted, adding that various aging conditions that impair eyesight, hearing and neck flexibility can all impact an individual’s ability to drive safely.

“And ultimately  you should appeal to a person’s sense of what’s right,” he said.

“What scares me is seeing someone get out of a car who can barely walk,” one member of the audience said.

Dr. Desire explained the 10 signs that it’s time to limit or stop driving as outlined by AARP. These include almost crashing with frequent close calls. Also finding dents and scrapes on your car.

If you get lost, especially in familiar locations or have trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road sign and pavement markings, it may be wise to not drive.

Are you responding more slowly to unexpected situations or having trouble moving your foot from the gas to the brake? Do you misjudge gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway  entrance or exit ramps?

Do you become easily distracted while driving ? Do you have a hard time turning around to check the rear view while backing up or changing lanes?

Do you experience road rage or cause other drivers to honk or complain? And finally have you received multiple traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement officers?

If any of these seem familiar to you, rethink your ability to be on the road. No one wants to be part of a tragedy.

On another subject, I read with interest an insert in Sunday’s Newsday. The paper reproduced an issue from April 22, 1964. The paper said it would be doing this more throughout the year.

Interesting to see the prices for food at King Kullen and A&P. Loin lamb chops were 89 cents a pound, chuck steak was 35 cents a pound, and tunawas four cans for a dollar. JC Penney had sneakers on sale-two pair for $5. But a Zenith TV at Gimbels was $499.

And the hard news showed loads of turmoil around the world.