More than 25 years ago, Katherine Freund’s life changed course in the blink of an eye. An 84-year-old driver struck and seriously injured her toddler son; the driver kept going and later said he mistook the little boy for a dog. The 1988 incident remains painful for Freund to talk about even today, but two remarkable things came from it: Her son fully recovered from his broken bones and traumatic brain injury and grew into a kind and aware man, and instead of being devoured by anger at the driver who struck her child, Freund focused her attention on what she calls the “real problem” behind the accident.
And that problem is this: Older unsafe drivers stay on the road because they have no choice. Cars are seen as the key to independence and without them, our worlds shrivel. The average American outlives his/her ability to drive by about 10 years and the quality of their lives diminishes when they relinquish their private transportation, according to the National Institutes of Health.