Older Drivers Vs. Teen Drivers, Or Texting Vs. Senior Moments

Jim Shea

June 13, 2012


At the ends of the driving spectrum you have your seniors, and you have your teens.

Who would you rather share the road with?

Physically, of course, teens are superior:

They have better eyesight, hearing, reaction time and awareness.

They also have testosterone, adrenaline, impatience, a sense of immortality and a need for speed.

Seniors have glasses, hearing aids, reaction moments and a sense of awareness that might best be described as "where did that car come from?"

On the other hand, seniors are not burdened by revved-up nervous systems, have all the time in the world, a heightened sense of mortality, and a need for speed … limits.

The issue comes down to risk versus annoyance.

While the senior driver will occasionally do something like hit the gas instead of the brakes and end up inviting themselves into a stranger's living room, they are generally safer drivers.

Which is not to say they can't be annoying:

They tend to drive cars that are too big for them — the smaller the person the bigger the car.

Once they put the signal light on, they like to keep it on until they have to use it again.

And they have a favorite speed, which they use all the time whether it be pulling out of the driveway or tooling along in the passing lane.

So, yeah, they have their little, um, quirks.

The major problem with teenage drivers is that they tend to overestimate their abilities. They think just because the state issued them a driver's license they are good drivers. They aren't.

How do we know this? We were once teen drivers and the state once issued us driver's licenses.

What makes today's teen drivers more potentially hazardous to everyone's health is that they have divided loyalties.

When they are behind the wheel they are not just focused on getting from Point A to Point B, but also on maintaining constant contact with their friends.

A recent survey by the State of Connecticut found that 53 percent of teen drivers admitted to talking on their cellphones while driving, and 51 percent said they text and/or e-mail while behind the wheel.

To be clear, texting is not distracted driving. Drinking coffee is distracted driving. Texting is comatose driving.

Personally, I'll take older over comatose.