Older drivers should be tested more often

January 2, 2012

Here’s news that will make most everyone happy. Starting this month, the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles will begin extending the period between driver’s license renewals from five years to eight years.

The state will save money, DMV lines will get shorter, people will deal with DMV less often.

What could be wrong with that?

Quite a bit, actually. A News-Journal story brought up the issue of identification, since people will be less likely to look like their driver’s license photos.

(I realize, dear reader, that you and I don’t change with the passing of the years, but some unfortunately people do.)

But I don’t see that as the real problem. A bigger issue – one not mentioned in the story – is the aging of our population and the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s or other debilitating diseases.

The fact is, as we get older, we decline and we don’t want to admit it. Those with Alzheimer’s are even less likely to accept reality. This change, though hailed by many, is going to mean more dangerous drivers on our roadways and more accidents that shouldn’t have happened.

An eight-year period might be fine for younger people, but it’s too long for people over the age of 60.

Or perhaps 70.

And that, I realize, is the problem. No matter where you set the age when drivers should have their licenses renewed for a shorter period, say four years, people are going to howl that it’s age discrimination. And those older people vote.

What’s the big deal about getting your license renewed every four years? If you’re still fit, you’ll pass with flying colors.

GREAT MYSTERY SOLVED: Like many people, I sometimes wake up at 3 a.m. wrestling with life’s mysteries, such as: In “Christmas Story,” how did they get that poor boy’s tongue to stick to that metal post?

It’s one of the movie’s highlights. In response to a classmate’s “triple dog dare” – and how could anybody back down from that? – Flick tentatively touches the frigid pole with his tongue.

Sure enough, his tongue gets stuck. It looks real and it looks painful. Flick cries as the other kids answer the bell calling them to class.

We watched the movie again this Christmas and I wondered again how they did it.

Finally, the great question has been answered. The actor who played Flick, now a middle-aged man, appeared recently on a talk show. He explained that it was a plastic pole with a little hole in it and a device at the bottom that created a vacuum. When he placed his tongue on the hole, the suction made it appear he really was stuck to an ice-cold metal pole.

Mystery solved. I know I slept better that night.

CHILDREN SHOULD BE SEEN, NOT HEARD:  That’s a bit of parenting philosophy from the old days. I doubt it was followed very closely in most families. Kids have always enjoyed yakking, especially girls.

Now though, because of technology, children often are seen and not heard.

Last week Helen and I enjoyed a quiet dinner next to a large table where a young girl’s birthday was being celebrated.

A quiet dinner next to a young girl’s birthday party? Sounds like bedlam.

Not any more. The adults were conversing normally and the girls – all of them – were face down pecking away at their cell phones. Complete silence.

I wondered if they were texting each other. I mean, why talk to the person next to you when you can text, right? (There is, of course, the advantage that your parents aren’t privy to your texted conversations.)

The adults appeared perplexed.  Said one mother, “Do you ever come up for air?” I got the impression they would have preferred more old-time giggling.

I wonder what the stern parents of yesteryear would have said.

ANOTHER SIGN OF THE TIMES: Shopping at the mall used to be somewhat fun. Helen would head out for who knows where and I would hunt for book and record stores.

Recently, I was at a huge regional mall that contained neither. No books, no CDs, nothing to keep me occupied – except for the passing parade of people, who remain as entertaining as ever.

LET’S GET SIMPLE: Here’s a real live Kim Kardashian New Year’s resolution tweet that I am not making up: “i wanna be more simple in 2012.”

I understand where she’s coming from. I wanna be more simple too, but my wife says that’s not possible.

MINI-REVIEW: What’s the cheesiest thing you could possibly do on New Year’s Eve? Go see “New Year’s Eve,” the movie. That’s what we did. If you’re not expecting much, it’s okay.