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Archive for August 7th, 2008

Driving and old age is not a new issue.  The elderly man who killed ten people when his car slammed into a crowded flea market created a storm of discussions about age and driving restrictions.  He was sentenced to probation!

However, two separate motorcycle accidents this week in different countries re-raised the question for me.  How old is too old to drive?

In Sturgis this week, Lloyd Tilley (73) driving his Toyota Tacoma made a left-hand turn in front of Ronald & Patricia Snide on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  He did not see them and unfortunately both died.  And today in Turin, Italy the AutoNews is reporting that the Pininfarina CEO (Andrea Pininfarina) was killed while riding his Vespa scooter to the R&D center in Cambiano by Giuliano Salmi, 78,  who did not see him!

In a 1997 NHTSA study, older people made up 9 percent of the population, but accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 17 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.  Of the traffic fatalities of older drivers 82 percent were in the daytime, 71 percent occurred on weekdays and 75 percent involved a second vehicle.  Moreover, 28 percent of crash-involved older drivers were turning left when they were struck.

If these stats don’t cause you to take pause, then think about this. In the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 and over) is predicted to triple in the U.S.  Nothing can be done about people getting older.  But, what can be done other than voluntary, self-service inspection when a situation is causing issues?  Mandatory tests?  Should more states adopt deficit reporting laws like in Pennsylvania?

Driving is a privilege that also carries responsibility, and a major part of that responsibility is the ABILITY to drive a vehicle in a manner that does NOT endanger others.  A persons chronological age is not an absolute predictor of driving ability, but it’s impact can’t be denied!

Photo courtesy of Road and Travel.

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Vendors are throttling back…and pointing blame everywhere.  Are motorcycle demographics changing the rally attendance?  Is it the unpopular war, or is it costs – including gas, merchandise and “refreshments” – all rising?

It didn’t take but a couple of days for the Sturgis City fathers and vendors to ring the internet alarms about reduced revenue.  It was clear last week that fewer vendors registered for the rally. The total number of vendor licenses that had been sold were 95 697, compared with 115 811 licenses sold in 2007 rally.  Correction provided by Pepper at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Rally attendance in 2007 (as measured by tons of trash) was an estimated 507,000. It was an estimated to be 457,000 in 2006. Reports indicate that this year’s rally attendance will be down 20 percent.

Has the whole rally thing hit a wall?  In my view, fewer people means a better rally as I can only take a couple days of big crowds.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/TWCollins

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