Sorry, Mrs Grumble, but here’s why it might be better if you gave up driving

Alf had been reluctant to question Mrs Grumble about her driving skills, after she landed the family car in the situation pictured here…

Among other things, he is a highly sensitive feller who did not want to upset his wife.

Mind you, there was a political element to his thinking: if he raised her dander unduly she might portray her husband among the good citizens of Eketahuna North as a male chauvinist pig.

Not true, of course.

But women voters might not be readily dissuaded.

This morning, however, the matter must be broached.

This is being done in light of statistical evidence that Mrs Grumble could be a danger to the public – in the supermarket carpark in Masterton, at least.

The nature of the threat is revealed here in the Daily Mail, which reported –

Older female driver cause two thirds of accidents where drivers hit the gas instead of the brake, a U.S. government study has found.

Most of these blunders tend to happen in parking lots, according to an analysis of 2,400 collisions.

Enough said, eh?

Mind you, Alf will skip over the bit of the Daily Mail report that says 60 per cent of all accidents were caused by men.

The study was undertaken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Collisions caused by drivers accidentally putting their foot on the accelerator were most common among those aged under 20 and over 76.

The age disparity showed up in both an analysis of more than 2,400 gas pedal accidents in a North Carolina state crash database and an analysis of nearly 900 news reports of such crashes.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the media have some explaining to do.

They are giving older folk a bad name.

In the state database, accidents were almost equally likely to involve drivers under 20 as over 76, but in news reports about 40 percent of accidents involved elderly drivers – four times as many as young drivers.

So how come the greater frequency of such accidents in those age groups?

It is possible that the areas of the brain that deal with driving aren’t as robust in teenage and elderly drivers, researchers said.

Executive functioning – performing mental processes such as planning, attention and organising, do not reach full maturity until early adulthood.

At the other end of the age spectrum, older drivers were more likely to perform poorly on tests of executive functioning.

The majority of gas pedal accidents happened in parking lots or while parking in garages and driveways rather than on roads.

A panel of driver rehabilitation specialists interviewed by researchers said that drivers may be just as likely to accidentally step on the accelerator while driving – but there is more time to recover.

The Daily Mail recalls the time in 2003 when an 86-year-old male driver mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal of his car instead of the brake and then panicked, plowing into an open-air market in Santa Monica, Calif.

Ten people were killed and 63 injured.

Mrs Grumble is not as old as that, of course, and in that case the errant motorist was a bloke.

Even so, it’s time to ask her if she thinks it’s time to hand over her keys.

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