Driving is a privilege that should be enjoyed but not abused

This week, Hammertime takes on driver's licenses for seniors.

I feel so very fortunate that I have somehow been able to possess an Alberta Driver’s License for 56 years, during which time I got a few tickets and some dents and bumps along the way but managed to log a whole lot of great miles and wild and wonderful adventures in more vehicles than I can remember. I have always considered myself as an average driver, and never a candidate for ‘Alberta’s worst’, but then now at the age of 74 when I am still having lots of fun just casually cruising around, they will only give me my license for one year.

Alberta Transportation have apparently decided that those of us approaching 75 years of age are now considered as ‘Mature drivers’, which really ticks me off when someone in the oval office is suggesting that it took me this long to grow up? Now, just like all the rest of us seniors who will celebrate reaching that age in 2017, before we get our license back we will have to book a complete medical. If we pass that and the Doc still decides that we are still spry enough to get back into our well-worn driver’s seat, we will then be rewarded with a shiny new Alberta Driver’s License (and an older picture) for five more years. When we reach the big 80 and still want to ‘keep on going down the road’ we will have to do the complete the medical thing again in order to get a two year renewal. But let’s not fret my friends, because our feisty Alberta Seniors have taken their protest against mandatory cognitive testing for 75-year old drivers to the Legislature, but at present the Transportation Minister is not budging.

Our responsibility from behind the wheel

No matter what age we might be or how long we have had our driver’s license we all have a vital and ongoing responsibility to practise the utmost of care and safety and follow the rules of the road whenever we sit behind a steering wheel and operate our vehicles. In an all out effort to drastically reduce the growing list of horrific incidents of impaired, distracted, and all other dangerous driving offenses occurring in our Province the Alberta Government are undertaking a sustained effort to drastically increase the fines, demerits, and charges for those found guilty of committing these offenses.

Latest statistics show that 20 per cent to 30 per cent of all current vehicle accidents are a result of Distracted Driving, and have just increased the fines for these offenses from $287.00 to $400.00 and beyond plus 3 three demerits or more depending on the seriousness of the offense and the judgment of the courts. The simple explanation of the completely preventable crime of Distracted Driving includes: using a hand-held phone while talking, texting, and or emailing; operating electronic devices like video players or lap-tops; manually programming GPS or portable auto players, reading or writing, and engaging in personal grooming, all of which are illegal while driving a motor vehicle. Rumour has it that a new camera/scope device is now on the market that can detect drivers who are using their phones or performing other distractions from up to 1.2 miles away as well as taking a photo of the culprit and their vehicle. Members of the public can report a distracted driver or one that is displaying erratic behavior or there is a significant risk to others should call your local R.C.M.P. detachment, but NOT 911 please.

Bottom line in all of this, as busy as our highways and by-ways are 24-7 each and every day all of us can take complete responsibility and care for every moment that we are driving our vehicles, obey the laws and always possess a deep respect for our precious passengers and share the road with others. With this in mind hopefully it will be a whole lot safer and happier for all of us to be out and about in our great Province and community. Thank you for your ongoing co-operation and understanding, and have a great week, all of you.


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