Saturday, August 03, 2019
Can doctors force seniors to stop driving? Can seniors rent cars everywhere? The moral debate over the risks for others that come with (your) "privileges"
You’re over 65 and on Medicare. (I just passed 76.) Your doctor insists on another physical every 6-9 months to renew your blood pressure medication. Could your doctor, based on a finding, submit a report to the state causing you to lose the right to drive?
Likewise could a car rental company, when you land at an airport, refuse to rent based on age?
Nine states have laws that require physicians to report conditions that could cause driving safety issues. In four of these, the laws encompass conditions besides the most obvious, like strokes and seizures. Eye problems would also matter, obviously.
Triblive has a report of a typical case from Pennsylvania, dating back to 2012 (link)
There are medical conditions that might indirectly create a risk. Some people with heart arrythmias might be more susceptible to sudden stroke, like when driving. In the long run, this creates a moral conundrum: should seniors who are functioning well be goaded into surgeries (pacemakers or even bypass or stents) on the theory that if they continue to drive, a sudden event could cause risk for others?
In a moral sense, this is a bit like the reach of the gun control debate and the reach of the Second Amendment, because collectively gun ownership increases the risk that any random person, even in a school in an affluent area, could become a shooting victim – David Hogg’s crusade. There is not constitutional right to drive, but there is a practical necessity to retain social independence. I can see a parallel in the moral thinking.
I found a similar article for Canada, where the fact of single payor for everyone may influence the moral debate.
Some countries in Europe (mostly smaller ones) impose age limits on car rental, and apparently Mexico imposes one of 75. (Renting one there is not too good an idea anyway.) Here is Autoslash’s reference.
My own mother last drove by herself in July 2009 to the Safeway and back. I allowed it, even though she had had a minor stroke and now had intermittent caregivers. I never allowed it again. She passed away in December 2010.