Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Intersections, Aging, and Plans

Was thinking about when I should give up my driving license. Supposedly the key is reflexes, we oldsters are a lot more careful than you whippersnappers, but our reflexes are slow. But is that true?

I've had three accidents so far: the first was unambigously the other driver's fault; the second was perhaps a little mine (pulled off the side of the road in very heavy fog and was rear-ended by someone a bit high; and the third was all mine. In that case (back in 1978), I came up to an intersection and made a left turn in front of oncoming traffic. I was thrown by two facts--it wasn't a 4-way intersection with right angles, but a 5-way with no right angles and it was the first time I had entered it. I was first distracted by the possible traffic on the road coming in on my left, then by figuring the angle to my left turn and I assumed (ass u me) that there was nothing coming from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, this was at the top of a grade, so the traffic on the oncoming street was somewhat hidden. At 37 my reflexes were still sharp, but not enough to avoid the accident.

So the bottom line is that the concept "intersection" in my head didn't match the reality on the ground. I suspect that's a major pitfall of driving while old, we've too many pictures in our head and we have neither the flexibility nor reflexes to adjust quickly when reality doesn't jibe with the pictures in our head. In that, we are a lot like the government in handling Katrina, the reality didn't match our stereotype of "hurricane".

1 comment:

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