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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Too Old to Drive?

Aired July 17, 2003 - 20:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: In Santa Monica, California, the death toll from last night's horrific crash at a crowde0d farmers market has now gone up to 10. A 7-month-old little boy died today. Police say the 86-year-old man who drove his car through several blocks of people could face manslaughter charges.
The accident has raised questions about the possible dangers of older drivers. But as Charles Feldman reports, the issue is more complex than you might think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty-seven- year-old James Miller first got behind the wheel of a car 73 years ago, when Herbert Hoover was president. He has no intention now of putting on the brakes.

JAMES MILLER, SENIOR DRIVER: Unless I become incapacitated or mentally ill, I hope to continue until I pass away.

FELDMAN: Miller is as upset as anyone about the crash in Santa Monica that involved an 86-year-old driver, but rejects the idea that elderly drivers should face special restrictions based on age alone.

Numerically, the 25 to 69-year-old set, for example, has more accidents, they drive faster and do more distracting things like talk on the cell phone. However, on a per mile basis, older drivers are involved in more fatal crashes than anyone else except teenagers.

Only two states require senior drivers to take periodic road tests. Only five make them renew their licenses in person so they can be evaluated. And that younger group that has the most number of accidents? They face no restrictions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FELDMAN: And there are all kinds of reasons, Paula, as you know, why people are distracted and make all kinds of just terrible drivers. And they range the gamut from talking on cell phones to trying to flip a cd in the car -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, I've got one I want to see if you can match. Coming into work last week, I actually saw a woman driving and attempting to floss her teeth at the same time, and looking in the rearview mirror to see how she was doing. FELDMAN: I can match that and I can beat it. I was driving to work this morning and there was a young woman who every time she got to a traffic light, when the light would turn green, she wouldn't go. And I kept honking my horn. And what it was was she was reading this month's issue -- and I picked up a copy of "Cosmo" -- she was just glued to it. And no matter how many times I honked, she kept reading the magazine and eventually she drove off giving me a very unusual hand signal.

ZAHN: Yes, that hand signal that we love. But I suspect if you were driving with "Cosmopolitan" magazine and looking at it as you were driving, and you'd be stopping at the green light as well.

Charles Feldman, thank you.

FELDMAN: You're welcome.

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