Well, Prince Philip finally did something useful. Not long before my father died at 89, he asked the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles if they wouldtest his driving skills to determine whether he should surrender his license. They refused, saying that that they had neither the funding nor the inclination to do that.
This week, the Duke of Edinburgh, 97 years young as they say, flipped his Land Rover and injured another motorist while driving by himself on a country road. He said the sun was in his eyes, the same excuse famously used by a member of the 1962 Mets after he missed a ground ball. Why the hell is Price Philip still driving? The New York Times article about this foolishness is called “After a Crash, Prince Philip, 97, Stokes Debate on Older Drivers.”
What debate? There’s no debate. A 97-year-old man shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car on public roads. Mr. Queen Elizabeth doesn’t even have the excuses/rationalizations/justifications that other elderly drivers use, like autonomy and freedom. The Prince has drivers. He has private roads where he can practice skids and wheelies. The “debate” is similar to the debate over whether judges should stay on the bench until they drop, even as they have entered old age so deeply that the claims that they are as sharp as ever is pure deception. (By the way, have you seen the new Ruth Bader Ginsberg flick?) In the interests of public safety, every driver over some designated age should be required to pass an annual—every six months would be better— road test designed to determine whether their skills have diminished significantly. Responsible drivers over that age or even close to it should also be encouraged to be responsible, know when it’s time to surrender the keys and do it. (My father, who could still drive as well as ever–he was always a bad driver–told me he was giving up the car a few days before he died.)
Epilogue: Norfolk Police say they have spoken to the Duke of Edinburgh after he was pictured driving without a seat belt, 48 hours after being involved in the crash.