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license to drive: the living dead move among us

I very rarely start the day off with a quiz but this one is about zombies and I'm sure I can make it tie in nicely to whatever it was I was going to write about today.

Sigh. I always have to refigure the quiz result code from Quizilla. Why do people use such huge images?

You are an Evil Dead Zombie. The spirits of the
dead took over your body in a lonely cabin, and
now it's your job to kick some Ash ass. Sadly,
while you'll succeed in beating the bejeezus
out of Ash repeatedly, he will ultimately wipe
you from existence. You can only be killed by
bodily dismemberment.

What kind of Zombie are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Of course, I knew when I started the quiz that this would be an available answer - no self respecting zombie quiz would omit Evil Dead - so I skewed my answers in a fashion that would allow this result. And there you have it, I am an Evil Dead zombie.

Which is interesting because I was thinking of zombies last night. I often think of zombies as they are fascinating creatures who have a whole genre of superb horror movies to themselves, but this instance had nothing to do with movies.

I was driving. Just cruising along in the left lane of one of the four-lane main streets around here, headed to 7-11 for various sundries. I need to get over to the right, so I turn on my directional (blinker for some of you) and wait for the little yellow car on my right to move ahead so I can scoot over.

But the little yellow car isn't going very fast. And there's a car ahead of me that's not going very fast. When I say not very fast, I mean that the speed limit on the road is 40 and both cars were barely approaching half of that.

So now I'm boxed in and 7-11 is fast approaching on the right. There's a cell-phone blabbing idiot behind the little yellow car who is oblivious to my blinking directional and my dire need to switch lanes, so unless I want to hang back and risk being rear-ended by the Coca-Cola truck barreling up behind me, I am going to crawl right by the 7-11 without being able to gain entrance to the parking lot.

I look to my right, my stoney glare and middle finger all set to go. I just want to get the attention of the person in the yellow car who has aggravated me so. Sensing my deathly gaze, she turns and looks at me. A small, whimpering scream makes it way from my soul to my throat.

It's a zombie! The person driving that yellow car is among the living dead! I can recognize a zombie immediately. The grayish skin, the hollowed out eyes, the vacant stare, the way what's left of the former living skin hangs off of the bones by very thin threads. Its gnarled fingers are clasping the steering wheel in a fierce in embrace of white knuckles and leathery hands.

The zombie glares at me. I'm sure it's thinking mmmmmm....brains. I slip my foot off the gas so I can hang back and not have to look into those dead eyes again, but the creature is riding its brake, stopping and going in jerking motions, as if its afraid of the car in front of it.

We come to a red light, well past the 7-11 now, and I am next to the yellow car. It has all the telltale signs of the driving, living dead. The box of tissues in the back window. The front seat adorned with one of those beaded back massagers.

I avert my gaze and glance at the car ahead of me at the light. Oh lord, tissues in the back window! And I can't even see the driver's head, all I can see is those same kind of gnarled fingers gripping the wheel, as if the driver is headless. I am surrounded by the living dead, the worst kind of living dead - the ones who still drive.

The light turns green and I have to tap on my horn to startle the zombie ahead of me into motion. The one on the right is also hesitating, and she swerves a little to the left, coming very, very close to me and then overcompensates with the steering wheel and swerves back into her lane looking very much like a drunk driver.

But I know better. She's not drunk. She's just old, much like the little man ahead of me, who is topping out at a fiesty 15 miles per hour. I make a left at the next corner, going well out of my way to avoid driving next to these creatures any longer.

The living dead are among us. And they have licenses.



This whole thing just infuriates me.
I don't understand why they let him out of jail. If this were some person between the ages of say 18 and 45, they would still be sitting in jail wouldn't they? I mean 10 people are dead and they let him go. Grr.

Did you sneak away to Florida last night?

Speaking of zombies, every zombie movie is educational. Most are cautionary takes but some have specific points. Take "28 Days Later" for example, the two points you get from it are: 1. Animal rights activists are stupid. 2. If your ever in a situation with zombies, its better to be in the U.S. because we have lots of guns and that zombie nonsense just wouldn't last as long. Lesson learned.

How inconvenient for you. Better to lock them all up in nursing homes! Why don't they all die!! Kliban had a ``home for the unpleasant'' for them.

There was a really old guy I knew with a pilot's license who could be seen wobbling in for a landing on windy days but he always made it okay. He died of something else eventually.

Old drivers aren't statistically a particular danger; and mostly when they wipe somebody out it's themselves. They don't even make the teen-ager ``crash photos page 4'' page. Divide by the population of 350 million and they're zero risk to you.

But it is unpleasant seeing them around.

Two months after I got my US drivers' license, an extremely old man crashed intot he side of my car from the cross-road, becuse he lost control. Guess what, he had a similar accident with a different car just two weeks ago. It is a hazard, not an inconvenience.

Ron, we make sure that teens are a certain age before they can drive, have to have permits etc, make then drive with licensed drivers for awhile. Why shouldn't there be some law about having to take a new ROAD test after a certain age is reached? here in FLA and I assume most of the country, older drivers just have to take an eye test and some just get to send in for a new one. There needs to be rules and laws protecting people from the too young and the too old in my opinion.

Kat, because they're statistically not a problem. It's a news story with legs because old people are unpleasant and some of them drive slowly, so you notice them. As far as hazards go, the first group to ban with or without tests is teenagers. Many people survive even teen drivers.

News stories are aimed at women, by the way; the busybody instinct, probably.

Your yearly odds of getting wiped out in a traffic accident are one in 5000, and that's a risk everybody's happy with. At least they don't hesitate to go out for the most trivial reasons, which is the test. Nobody's cowering about it.

There's a lot of old people. They search the entire nation for a story about them that will bring in audience. That audience is you. They sell you to advertisers. In the news business, you are the product.

You can avoid it by throwing away the TV.

Ron, I live in florida. I see firsthand how crazy this shit can get during season. I live about 5 blocks from the fire department. In summer, like now, I don't hear the trucks screaming down the road every 15 minutes. During season, October to April, every 15 minutes, a firetruck goes screaming by. I have seen firsthand the accidents caused by older drivers. I have almost been hit a dozen times trying to cross the street on the walk man go signal for me, by older drivers. I have seen them take out stop signs, hit pedestrians, run over medians, decide to take a left at the last mniute from the far right hand lane ( we have 8 lanes down here on most roads). I am not a product Ron. I am a human being who sees this with my own eyes. I don't need a tv report to tell me they are dangerous. I see it everyday.
All I am saying is there needs to be a law that requires older drivers to take a road test every year after a certain age because I don't want to end up dead and smushed under the wheels of grams caddy thank you very much.

Sorry Ron, but you're flat out wrong. Old drivers DO cause more accidents than younger ones. The first thing I found on Google for it:

"While people 65 and older make up 12 percent of California's licensed drivers, they are involved in 17 percent of fatal crashes and cause 60 percent of those, according to a recent study by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles."


Yeah, teenagers may be even worse, but two wrongs don't make a right, and at least teenagers will get better, while old drivers just get worse. I suspect most states occasionally try to restrict old drivers, but the AARP always fights it off.

How horrible, being almost hit. Too bad it doesn't show up in statistics. I've seen firsthand the accidents caused by all kinds of drivers. The reason old people don't show up in statistics is that old people cause about their share and others cause about their share. The firetrucks are overkill, more for stage effect, by the way. That's another topic.

If you live where there are only old people, all accidents will be caused by old people. That's true but not significant.

I don't expect a news exposť of ``how the news uses hysterics to give its stories legs'' anytime soon.

The reason you don't want to test old people is that it's a hassle; the sign of the busybody at work. Let's hassle X. Toss out the TV, take up another hobby.

Brent, oh great, a dangerous.drivers URL. That's a good sign.

The statistic is hilarious though. ``While people 65 and older make up 12 percent of California's licensed drivers, they are involved in 17 percent of fatal crashes and cause 60 percent of those, according to a recent study by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.''

Can we think about this? If they're 12 percent of the drivers, they ought to be involved in 24 percent of the fatal crashes, not 17 percent. They're safer than average.

You'd have to reduce that for single-car crashes, and elderly-elderly collisions. So probably it comes out about average, just what I said.

Look at how the site uses the statistic. They're chuckling to themselves about you. It's a story with legs and they need you in the audience.

``Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.'' I thought that was the height of cleverness as a teenager. Now CNN is using the same grammatical form.

Didn't look at the site (but see, I can still post!), but taking the numbers Brent quotes: With the "over 65s" being 12% of the licensed drivers, their "proportional share" of causing fatal crashes should be... 12%. But the quote says: "...they are involved in 17 percent of fatal crashes and cause 60 percent of those...". 60% of 17% is 10.2%... ergo, the raw figures imply that the "over 65s" are actually a bit safer than average, at least when it comes to causing fatal accidents.
A possible explanation for their disproportionate overall involvement might be that while the older drivers tend to drive within their own capacity, their slower reaction times leave them at a disadvantage when some drunken/drugged up teenager crosses the center line in front of them.
Just stokin' the argument...

I'll start off by saying that I'm not going to use any statistics in this post. I'll simply make vast generalizations that I can't really back up, but seem to make sense to me.

The first thing you have to remember is that, according to the authorities from whom all of the statistics are culled, for someone to have caused a collision, they must be doing something illegal. Swerving around randomly (as long as you stay within your lane), panic-stopping because it took you a full second longer to recognize a potential danger and blithely ignoring what everybody else on the road is doing are not illegal, just bad driving.

The second thing you have to remember is that fatalities (or even collisions) are not the determining factor on who is a good driver and who's not. By way of an example, ask yourself if you think that in the pressure situation of a retest, you'd be able to successfully parallel park in a space with cars in front and in back of you, with the caveat that the car must never come out of reverse (until you're done), and you get one turn to the right that goes at most one revolution of the steering wheel, and one turn to the left with the same constraints.

Granted, failing to parallel park generally doesn't disqualify you for a license automatically, but it can make the difference if you also miss one yield sign or don't make your left-hand turns within the gap in the centerline (this may just be a Massachusetts thing, not that anyone here bothers.)

The point is, right now in the United States, I'd be willing to bet that a quarter or so of the licensed population would fail a retest, regardless of age. My personal opinion is that an appreciably higher percentage than the baseline would fail when you get into the 75 and over crowd, but that's beside the point. Make everybody do it, every time their license expires, because I don't mind driving behind somebody who's 150, as long as they can still drive well, and I hate being beside a 35 year old road rager even more than a senile old coot going 30 down the interstate. At least you can (usually) pass the old guy without fearing for your life.

Personally, I'd like to see additional things covered on the test, such as changing your tire, filling your gas tank (self serve stations are illegal in Oregon, New Jersey, and possibly others, so a lot of people from those states don't know how to work a pump), basic vehicle maintenance (fluids, etc).

Though it's certainly not the driving factor (pardon the pun), the first state that does both of those is going to have some wonderfully empty roads, which of course makes traffic laws easier to enforce, so everybody wins (except the village idiots that can't figure out how to properly operate a motor vehicle.)

I was going to leave a funny comment about how I didn't know where you were going until the last paragraph, and then I got it and it was funny. But then I got into the comments and everyone's being so gosh darn snarky I didn't feel like leaving my funny comment.

So instead I'm rambling!

And personally I think EVERYONE should be retested occasionally. And I think that people who are convicted of drunk driving even once should have their licenses permanently revoked. But that's just me.

My god, Ron and Old Grouch are on drugs! Don't you guys know how to read and use statistics for anything other than reinforcing the lies you like to tell?

Try this: Google "elderly drivers accidents" or some other similar combo. You'll find dozens of hits with many, many statistics about how unsafe older drivers are. They're not as bad as teenagers, but they're worse than everyone else. I can't believe you chuckleheads are even arguing the point -- I've never known this to even be a controversial point, it's a simple fact. Teens are horrible drivers, and old people are rotten (i.e. not as horrible, but still bad) drivers. Don't quibble with the particular line I quoted -- go do some reading.

Brent, no point in trying to talk to them about this They have made up their minds that older drivers don't need any restrictions at all. I suggest they start wintering here with all the rest of their 'old friends' and see if they change their minds.

I was driving down to the shore yesterday when I came up behind a Bentley on the Parkway. It had a box of Kleenex in the back window. A Bentley! Needless to say I quickly passed him and left it a small image in my rear view mirror. My son calls them "old gizzards." I think he means "old buzzards" but he's been saying it for so many years I don't have the heart to tell him otherwise.

Can we think about this? If they're 12 percent of the drivers, they ought to be involved in 24 percent of the fatal crashes, not 17 percent. They're safer than average.
Ah, the pleasures of innumeracy!

Then the 88% of the drivers who are under 65 would be involved in, what, 176% of the accidents?

Fortunately, statistical analysis isn't required for a driver's license... nor, apparently, for "authoritative" posting in a blog's comments!


12 percent isn't very big so about 24 percent is involved in either car of a collision at random.

Giving the precise number .24-.12^2=.23 conceals the argument. I did mention that you have to correct for elderly-elderly collisions, which is exactly what that other term is. The point is that the expected amount is about double the percentage because an ``elderly involved'' might be in either car.

The 88% would be involved in 1.76-.88*.88=.98 or 98% of accidents. 88% is not small so the approximation isn't useful.

Ron, you still don't have it. You're predicting that the entire population (over- and under-65) will be involved in (0.23 + 0.98) = 121% of the accidents (ignoring your rounding error, of course). This is obviously not the case.

Try again.


They're not independent events. The elderly/young collisions are in both the elderly-involved totals and the non-elderly-involved totals. You can't just add the numbers without subtracting out the duplication.

If you want to add something, take the distinct cases and add them. (elderly-elderly)=.12*.12 (elderly-nonelderly) .12*.88 (nonelderly-elderly) .88*.12 (nonelderly-nonelderly) .88*.88

Magically, these total 1. The first three total .2256, which is the elderly involvement. the last 3 total .9856 which is the non-elderly involvement.

Ron, thank you -- I've finally badgered you into clearly stating what you first merely alleged (and sneeringly, at that), without bothering to explain it to those untrained in statistical analysis. Unfortunately, your model is still wildly inaccurate: you ignore single-car crashes (as you state) and you ignore miles driven, instead looking only at number of drivers in the age group and apparently assuming that everyone drives the same number of miles.

Here is a study which actually looks in detail at what is going on. What do they find?
As people age, they tend to have deteriorating visual, cognitive, and perceptual functions that could lead to an increase in crash risk. Nevertheless, the crash rates for older drivers are lower per capita than for drivers of other ages because older drivers are less often licensed and drive fewer miles. Many older drivers report limiting their driving, especially to avoid challenging driving situations such as peak travel times and night-time driving. Despite this self regulation, older drivers, particularly those older than 75, are at increased risk of crash involvement per mile driven. [emphasis added, reference numbers omitted]
Yep, the older drivers are worse than younger ones in general (although the 16-19 yo crowd is deadly, second only those those over 80). In fact, the over-65 drivers have nearly three times as many accidents per mile driven than the safest group, those of us in middle age; in fact, they have well over twice the number of accidents per mile driven compared to the 30-64 yo group as a group (see this table for data). They just drive less, so they have a smaller impact (hyuck, hyuck) on the accident rate; nonetheless, it's not unreasonable to watch carefully when you see an elderly driver -- they are statistically more likely to hit you. And it's getting worse with time:
In 1983, driver involvement rates per capita for fatal crashes remained constant after age 60; in 1990 and 1995, however, involvement rates were higher for drivers aged 70 and older.
Why? Because older drivers are driving more miles each year:
Between 1983 and 1995, average annual mileage for the driving population increased 25% but went up 44% for drivers aged 65 and older, from 4345 to 6276 miles per year. This represents just more than half the average driver's 11 764 miles per year in 1995...
As Glenn would say, "Read the whole thing." It's not an easy issue -- certainly not as easy as you've made it out to be.

If they drive fewer miles, that makes them safer. What's the problem?

The problem is that old people are unpleasant people. Lock them up!

I'm happy to help with the arithmetic, you're welcome.

They may be safer overall, Ron, but not when they're actually on the road in your vicinity -- which was the point. I once lived in a snowbird community, and I spent the whole winter dodging out-of-control oldsters.

I am not-quite-elderly, but admittedly older, and I can tell that I don't have the driving edge I used to. But I'm not prejudiced against myself -- just realistic.

The statistics clarifications weren't to educate myself (I do reliability analyses as part of my job), but 1) to clarify that first garbled statement you made; then 2) to find out if your non-standard representation was just a shortcut or if you really knew what you were talking about; then finally 3) to get it down explicitly for everyone else. But thank you anyway... you responded pleasantly to my taunting.

That's what I said: old people are unpleasant to be around. They drive slower than other people. What an inconvenience they are! But they're not a safety hazard. Teenagers are. The politics though are that you can bash the unpleasant people and people start looking for proof that you're right. It's the credulity effect.

If the news went with a story about how unpleasant old people are, it would be a different matter. I'd agree. But depriving them of transportation wouldn't follow as easily then. The news needs self-righteousness and a ``what is to be done'' angle.

Is your elderly neighbor a menace to your children? More at eleven.

Actually he's not. He drives less than you do. You're a bigger threat.

Actually, my elderly neighbor is as much of a threat as I am, despite the fact that he drives less -- I'm in the very lowest-accident-per-mile group, and he's in a much higher one (if he's over 80, he's in the highest -- even worse than a teenager). But meeting me on the road is much, much safer than meeting him.

You're playing with words, Ron. The facts are otherwise... but of course you know that.

Go ahead, you can have the last word now.

Hey thanks guys, you gave me basically all the sources i need to write my paper about whether the elderly are a bigger threat on the roads (when you run into them) and what to do about it. I also got 4 sources from this page, as well as good, helpful insight to BOTH sides of the arguement.

:D hehe, i love this. MY position is that the elderly are more of a threat, based on the information posted and my own personal experiences. I do know tho that teens are a threat on the roads as well. I do my best as a teen to counter this statistic and hopefully it makes a difference.

Yeah thanks again all of you for giving me good insight into each side and evidence/reasons to back it up. GL "arguing" some more, i'll check back frequently...

Yeah it didn't read my info... when i just posted... lol here it is. This way i'm not anonymous.. but dont send me viruses based on my opinion... plz ty