It amazes me how we can go many months without ever airing any topic on elderly drivers yet it hits such a sensitive nerve in some people that my opinion from half a year ago will be challenged in an email.

All you do is bash senior citizens!
Stop picking on elderly!
Why do you hate old people so much?!

Setting the record straight never stops the hate mail from coming. Yet I'll say it again. I don't bash senior citizens. I bash lawmakers who are too cowardly to protect their constituents. I'm not picking on anybody. I'm saying we need a serious conversation about the dangers involved in a graying population behind the wheel. I don't hate old people. I hope to be one someday.

For years I have called upon legislators to come up with some common sense safeguards as baby boomers age. Dozens of other states have acted on the issue, whether as simple as Louisiana's rule that starting at age 70 license renewals must be done in person or as strict as what they do in Illinois where at age 75 drivers have to take a road test and an eye exam to renew, and at age 81 they must renew every two years, and by age 87 they must renew every year.

The fact is more than 30 states now do at least something to address the aging driving population. New Jersey does nothing. This needs to change.

A few days ago a 78 year old woman driving a BMW tried pulling into a parking space at an adult community clubhouse in Monroe. Instead of successfully parking she accelerated over the curb, across landscape rocks and drove straight into a pond. Three other seniors were in the car and all four needed to be rescued.

Tuesday an 80 year old man from Washington Township was knocked to the pavement and had his leg run over twice by a 90 year old Ho-Ho-Kus woman. This was outside the Foodtown off Pascack Road at 12:15pm.

Is this how we want our parents and grandparents to die? All because it's an awkward conversation to point out that as we age our reaction time and other skills decline? We're not calling anyone a criminal here. Those of us who want driver retesting beyond a certain age only want to keep them and others safe. Driver retesting does not assume elderly folks cannot safely drive. It separates those who can from those who cannot. It's not a hard concept. Yet the hate mail will continue.

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