I love road trips. I've been crazy about them ever since the days when my parents loaded my two sisters and me into the Pontiac station wagon and went off to visit relatives or take a family vacation. On Sundays we would go for long family drives, and I always secretly wished my dad would aim the car toward the unknown and we'd be off on an unexpected adventure. Flying will never hold the anticipation and joy the highway does for me - but that doesn't mean the long and winding road can't be even sweeter.
I've seen the occasional sensational story about a car dealer selling someone who is cognitively impaired - think Alzheimer's - a car, only to have family members march in and demand they take it back. But I thought it was rare. My AARP editor, though, knows six staffers who know someone with cognitive impairment who has managed to walk off with keys to a shiny new car.
Recently, 81-year-old Goldie Hunt and her husband, Vernon Hunt, 91, were reported missing after they set out on a 500-mile car trip from Garnet, Kansas to visit Goldie's twin sister in Dwight, Ill. The alarming story thankfully came to a happy ending several days later when they were spotted by a law enforcement officer as they asked for directions in Michigan. The Hunts' experience reminds me of a heartbreaking story several years ago 0f a Pennsylvania couple, William Fresch, 85, and his wife Betty, 79, who got lost driving home. Their bodies were found near their car the next morning after a frigid January night. These stories are terrifying for those of us who care for older loved ones.
My second child is learning to drive. In our state one of the requirements for driver education is for the student and a parent to attend a 90-minute seminar on safe driving. I'll admit that I was not looking forward to attending this session, but left having learned far more than I imagined possible.
A recent string of high-profile accidents involving older drivers has stirred up the decades-old debate: How old is too old to drive? Of course there's no definitive answer -- it depends on how physically and cognitively healthy someone remains. But it also depends on where you live: An Associated Press review found a "hodgepodge" of state rules governing older drivers.
You may be a good driver but if you live in a moderate- or low-income neighborhood, you're probably paying higher auto insurance rates than people who live in upscale parts of town, as much as $1,500 just for minimal liability coverage.
Dad was "The Man" behind the wheel. From his first Model T that he and his college buddies fixed up in the 1940s to the "ooze-mobile," which I used to call his big white Oldsmobile that hit the pavement like butter, he enjoyed almost 80 years of driving. He was like a race car driver when he whipped around the hills of Athens County, Ohio in our family Chevy Corvair.
Our friends at VolunteerSpot have a brand new campaign everyone should hitch a ride to, #TinyCars! Honor volunteers this tax season (and show them some love this February) by spreading the word that volunteers don't deserve a tiny 14 cent tax rate.
So you're driving to some far-flung relative's home for the holidays and halfway there you start feeling sleepy. Do you pull over for some coffee? Pull over and take a short nap?
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