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Is it time to do more to get older drivers off the road?

Police still don’t know what caused a 78-year-old man to swerve off the road in Buckley Monday, killing a two-year-old boy being pulled by his father in a wagon on a walking trail.

KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson wonders if age was a factor, and whether the driver should have still been behind the wheel. It’s an issue that hits home, because he had to deal with it with his own mother.

“I was in this situation a few years ago when my mom was starting to show signs of dementia. And it is so hard as a kid, because first of all you hate to see your parents getting old,” Dori says.

Dori had bought his mom a car several years before she died, but he and his wife began to worry about her deteriorating health and potential dangers driving. They frequently debated whether to take the keys away.

“You realize that if you take the car away from mom, that means the kids have to do everything, every grocery store, post office, drug store trip, pharmacy, everything,” Dori says. “For a lot of us who have young kids, that’s an unimaginable – I hate to say it – burden. And so you maybe let your parents stay on the road longer than you should.”

Eventually, the health problems became too prevalent and he stopped her from driving. But he wonders whether he waited too long. And admits it was a painful process to go through.

In a somewhat surprising turn for the staunch Libertarian, Dori is calling for the government to step in and help families get their loved ones off the road if they’re too dangerous to drive. Among his proposals is yearly testing when older drivers reach a certain age to ensure they remain capable and safe.

“It goes against my grain to say that government will be able to do what families can not. It seems like families should be able to control it,” he says. “But I also know the pull that we all experience when we have kids, and we don’t have time, and your inclination is ‘let’s hope and pray mom or dad doesn’t hurt anybody when they go out driving today.’ But that’s a horrible way to handle that as a kid.”

What do you think?

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