Should Old Drivers be Barred from Roads?

November 20, 2021

Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” – Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher and statesman.

Today, to be true, old is no longer gold.

I take the cue for this fortnight’s topic-essay from a report in Daijiworld in which an old man riding a scooter was knocked down by a speeding car and died and reaction of daiji readers to this report. But, first the daiji report dated 17/11/2021 followed by selected reader-reactions centred on old age.

Kaup: Speeding car rams into scooter, 74-year old rider killed

Kaup, Nov 17: Balakrishna Bhat (74), who was riding scooter towards Mangaluru on the one-way lane was killed after a speeding car following him rammed into his vehicle in the rear. The accident happened at the highway bend at Kelagina Pete, Padubidri on Tuesday November16.

Bhat had come from Kelagine Pete and joined the highway near Downtown Restaurant. He then crossed the divider and was moving towards Hejamady when a car that was moving towards Hejamady from Udupi hit the scooter from behind. The collision was so forceful that the scooter and its rider were tossed to a distance of about 25 feet from the spot where the accident happened. The people immediately took Bhat to a private hospital in Udupi…. Because of excessive bleeding, Balakrishna Bhat died before reaching the hospital.

Here are some comments made by daiji readers on the news item:

Children of aged parents should convince old people not to ride / drive after 65... hire rickshaw or taxi ... children should sponsor.

Above 60 cancel licence? Jail the driver of the car? What are these guys smoking? A scooterist comes on the highway from an illegal median near downtown hotel. Why should he use an illegal median? Why not drive a bit further and use the legal turnabout at the Karkal highway junction. A scooterist coming on a highway at possibly 10kmph from an illegal median is riding a death-wish onto traffic at legal 80kmph. There is no way the car can stop. And the car driver becomes reckless

Ramming is a daily issue , still nobody cares, business as usual for drivers, There should be a special Law/ Traffic offence Prosecution, offenders should be jailed for 1 year, Cancel the li

I firmly believe that this senior citizen was knocked down by a reckless driver... Will appeal once again, that citizens living in the coastal region must avoid all two wheelers... this is a vehicle of death

Traffic issues, Issuing Driving Permits, Traffic Offences, Driving Under the influence, Road Saftey, Lane decipline, ( if there are Lanes) , speed Limits, , conditions of the roads in India, should be taken seriously, by the authorities, , we as the road users, should push concerned authorities to come up with strict laws/ punishment, , it is very difficult even to cross the roads, even walk on side of the roads, The matter should be taken to even Parliament for discussion and to come up with a solution, We all have to use the roads, , even we can go out and protest regarding this issue, to attract public support. Indians are very restless on patience at respect to traffic rules... unless the general attitude towards road safety changes, nothing can be done.

Main problem is drivers and riders do not maintain safe distance.

Children of aged parents should convince old people not to ride / drive after 65... hire rickshaw or taxi ... children should sponsor.

Above 60 cancel licence? Jail the driver of the car? A scooterist comes on the highway from an illegal median near downtown hotel. Why should he use an illegal median? Why not drive a bit further and use the legal turnabout at the Karkal highway junction. A scooterist coming on a highway at possibly 10kmph from an illegal median is riding a death-wish onto traffic at legal 80kmph. There is no way the car can stop.

Ramming is a daily issue , still nobody cares, business as usual for drivers, There should be a special Law/ Traffic offence Prosecution, offenders should be jailed for 1 year, Cancel the licence, , permanently, made to pay blood Money, 50 lakh Indian Rupees, to the deceased family,


As if there is no fault of the driver of the car? He came and hit the scooterist from behind and killed him. And licence of scooterist beyond 60 yrs should be cancelled.

What does matter age here? Any age can be killed by the accident.

I do not agree that your comments above age 60 driving license cancellation. Some people are healthy and energetic above 60 too. First, cancel the license of reckless drivers who caused death.

(Incidentally, Joe Gonsalves, founder and leader of voluntary traffic controllers in Mangalore, who was to celebrate his centenary on 1/1/22 passed away three months short of his centenary. He was driving his car around Mangaluru - especially on his traffic control mission (May his soul rest in peace.)

If driving vehicles for people over 60 needs to be cancelled, will the govt. provide 50% concession to those senior citizens who have to move about? Will the over-speeding car hitting from behind spare the life of a younger person driving a two wheeler?

Rather than cancellation of license it is better if separate lane for 2-wheelers is made.

Are you sure those below 60 will not die in such an accident?

One central idea running through the reader-responses is that on attaining 60 a person should sleep on a bed rapped in a blanket and contemplate heaven. For such premature retirement from life, Longfellow has short, soothing lines:

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), American poet and educator.

Let us also not forget that since the time of Longfellow good diet and medical services have made yesterday’s 70 years today’s 50 years. But, that is another story for another time.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below. (Please scroll down a bit. Thank you.)


Also read:







By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Mon, Nov 22 2021

    Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe: Thank you for your research and net links. Your concluding line says it all. Rohan, Mangalore: I like your idea of life-time driving license. Then, how will RTO staff and agents will make their money? As for octogenarian from Bondel area, it could be Reuben Nazareth who lives in an old bungalow, atop a hill on a road leading from Daiji office. It could have been a hunting lodge of the family residing at Karanglpadi, near the Capuchin Friary. A lawyer by profession, Reuben had been giving weekly lectures on the Bible at the Theosophy mini-Hall at the PVS circle every Thursday. Now he has to be content with feeding peacocks which have made his hill-top estate their home. Mohan Prabhu, Canada: Your reference to taxi-coupons for seniors which save 60% on regular fare sounds interesting and has potential for seniors in India. Taking off young offenders for life may put some sense in reckless/drunk drivers. Sorry Rohan you missed my regular Cock-tale. Here is my compensating late entry concerning falling in love of my mother and father in the 1930s. Their villages, Thodambil and Kopla, were separated by a primitive cart track running from BC Road to Polali (now state highway). My mother’s farm was known for its extra-large-size pumpkins. My father’s family approached her family for seed of the giant pumpkins but were told that according to ancient folklore, giving seeds is doom for the giver. Enter an uncle of my father, then an eligible bachelor, like the serpent in the Adam and Eve story, and bypassing the elders enticed my innocent mother to deposit the seeds in the hollow of an ancient tree in the forest between the two villages along the cart-track. The simple-minded young girl took some seeds and deposited in the hollow of the tree. As she turned around to return to her home across the mud road, there was a callow young youth. Then one thing led to another and to the parish altar at Modankap (Bantwal) churc

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Sun, Nov 21 2021

    Sir, good topic to delve upon! Without going into the details, let us know that age is just a chronological factor, and not gerontological. That means a person, say, aged 75 might have equivalent or better faculties than one aged 50, which could be due to multiple factors including genetic! This fact applies across all sections of human activity. One example is of Michael Dsouza who used to drive a car at the age of 100, another one gentleman you have already mentioned! They had clean safety records as compared to most young drivers! So it will be futile to draw an yardstick on age only. Ofcourse, the person concerned should have good eyesight, hearing, and normal mental faculties. Would like to add that our traffic system and roads are so disorganized that even the best of drivers could fall prey to an accident caught unawares! Wish we would have a clean and disciplined system like as in the Gulf, which will always remain a dream. Thanks sir for giving fodder to my thought.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Sun, Nov 21 2021

    Oh well! Driving … With due respect, I would amend the topic to read: Should ELDERLY Drivers be barred from roads? The reason I am saying this is, the part of the world I am now, life actually starts at fifty. Honestly, I have been one of those reckless ones. I copped many speeding fines here due to strict speed limits after being accustomed to drive 140 kms upwards on the highways in Middle East. A few years ago, driving nearly 150 kms an hour on a deserted road or so I thought on the outskirts of Adelaide, I was fined AUD 1,000.00 (approx. Rs 50,000) as a Helicopter flying overhead clocked the car speed. My wife on the other hand has won some ‘safe driving awards’ bagging a Certificate and considerable fee reduction whenever her licence is renewed. Having said all that, Driving has been one of my passions.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sun, Nov 21 2021

    Sorry Mr. Monteiro I have forgotten to mention in my previous post one of the best senior drivers of Mangalore my aunt who shares the birth day and year with you. She is the safest driver I have ever seen. She was also one of the youngest women drivers of Mangalore and won many shields in driving competitions that were held regularly in the yesteryear. Thank you for the wonderful topic one of my most favourite topics driving.

  • mohan prabhu, mangalore/canada

    Sun, Nov 21 2021

    Old drivers are safer drivers than most young drivers, and you have given the example of dear old Joe (nine years older than me!). I stopped driving at 70 not because of old age but because of my eyesight and my ophthalmologist advised me not to after he performed cataract and glaucoma surgery. Haven't driven since, but have been using local public transport. In many cities old persons can apply for taxi coupons which will save 60% of the regular taxifare; and this is what I use now. This system if in place in Mangaluru will help seniors and will persuade them not to drive. Furthermore, once a person reaches 80 he or she has to go through a driver's test every two years to ensure not only that the eyesight is good but he or she has the require skills. Periodic testing both of sight and skill will help seniors. As for those youngsters who cause accidents by reckless driving and kill, they should be taken off the road permanently as an additional punishment if found reckless.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Nov 20 2021

    Driving is an art. It has nothing to do with age. Being a passionate driver I have driven to college, driven all over the world and India. Uncle Joe was a great driver almost nearing his centenary. I have seen very old drivers throughout the world. I feel even the renewal of driving license regularly should be avoided. Just issue a license at 18 or may br younger 16 or so deemed to be renewed perpetually. I missed the cocktail part of the story. I also have seen an octogenarian driver in Bondel area and also marketing around Mallikata for his pets driving perfectly and better than teenagers.

  • Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe

    Sat, Nov 20 2021

    Opinions of layperson does not matter here. Did a quick search and got this info from two trustworthy portals. One for 80years olds: And the other for 90 years old and above: Then again, eyesight and on-the-road alertness, reflexes etc., are important for safe driving and should be left to the driving authorities and medical practitioners.

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