7/21/11

Ride In 7/21

A quick one. It's a double water bottle day. Really gross.
I don't often do policy prescriptions, but here's one: give more social security benefits to any senior citizen who voluntarily turns in his/her driver's license. I think that this would lead to a lot of positive outcomes: fewer drivers on the road and less congestion, seniors spending less money on gas (which is subject to price shocks, which is especially bad when your income is fixed [though pegged to inflation] and more money on other things) and a massive reduction in auto fatalities amongst older Americans. These statistics are daunting:
Fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on data from 1999-2004. From ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens.
The numbers are particularly daunting at a time when the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by 2030, up 73% from today. Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11% of fatal crashes involved drivers that old.
So, why not bribe people to get them off the road? Well, I imagine it's complicated and we'd need to do a bunch of other things: greater density in walkable areas through the increase in housing stock and rezoning and the reduction of parking minimums, retrofitting the suburbs in order to accommodate those seniors who for a host of reasons wouldn't either want to move or afford to move into a denser area, increasing public transportation and deregulating things like "dolla vans" so that seniors have access to transportation during the retrofitting period and I'm sure there's a whole host of other things that we'd want to take into account. It would also help build a new constituency for "new urbanism." But, if anyone in Congress is reading and would like to get working on this, you totally have my permission.

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