As I'm sure most Australian car enthusiasts have noticed, there's been a massive song and dance about young drivers in the media of late. Every couple of weeks there's yet another story about how they're out there hooning on the roads.
Much of the mainstream media, trying to out-do each other in hyperbole and outrage, take it in turns to foam at the mouth and press a 'zero tolerance' line. We've already seen the first part of the political reaction. We now have restrictions on the cars you can drive and curfews on carrying passengers. We're also getting more police operations targeting young "hoons", and irrelevant ads from the RTA. They're even bandying around the idea of destroying their cars.
What we're not getting, however, is the same level of vitriol directed towards another menace to the public. I am talking about the elderly driver.
So, where's the same level of righteous indignation? Where's the media spotlight? We get an elderly driver running over babies which, if it was a P-plater, would have half the posse down at the hardware store looking for a length of rope, and the other half trying to find a suitable tree. And what do we hear from the police and the media? Crush hoons' cars. Ok then, what's worse: crashing into each other in a deserted industrial park late at night, or backing over populated bus stops in the afternoon?
Elderly drivers are the opposite side of the same coin as P-platers - one lot drives too fast, the other lot drives too slow. I know that every time I get stuck behind some car in the right lane doing 10-15km/hr under the speed limit, its inevitably an elderly driver causing the mobile road block.
While some P-platers might intentionally drive in a manner that's "a danger to others", it's always the elderly driver that will have blithely turned down the exit ramp to the motorway and tootled the wrong way up the road (Er... newsflash, current affairs shows, let's start crushing old geezers cars).
Ignorantly or unintentionally driving dangerously, while better from a moral standpoint, can have the same outcome as deliberately driving dangerously.
Injuring and killing people, intentional or not, still involves people getting... well, you know... injured and killed. It's cold comfort to the person 'on the slab' at the morgue to know that it wasn't some young hatchback driver with too much 'product' in their hair responsible. I can't see grieving being lessened by finding out that some octegenarian with too much mauve rinse was behind the wheel ("That's a relief... thank goodness I wasn't killed by a P-plater..." No, can't see it somehow).
The thing is, most young drivers inevitably grow out of their bad driving. The cure for being young is to get older. I don't think there's any cure for the elderly drivers' shit-driving disease. (Dying cures it, but that's a bit extreme I suppose.)
Bad driving is bad driving; whether the person behind the wheel is young or old, it's just different kinds of the same rubbish. Yet I reckon the government and the police are only trying to punish one of the two.
That's just flat out unfair, Howard would have called it un-Australian (if it wasn't about a demographic that actually liked the git).
Our licensing system needs to be tightened, and the elderly need to be put under as much scrutiny (if not more) than the young driver. Bring on mandatory re-testing. Get these old farts off the road. Flunk drivers who fail to show sufficient confidence behind the wheel, and let's have Transport Ministers with the balls to follow it through. What happened to driving being a privilege? Or does that only apply to young drivers?
As the population ages, the dangers posed by the elderly motorist is going to be more of a problem. I say get them off the roads before they actually kill the babies that the government is demanding the population create. (Well, that's all from me, time I did my civic duty in the 'making babies' department... who should I ask...?)