Coming to a Complete Stop

A few days ago, when driving to the grocery store, I came to a stop sign. Like I had learned in driver’s education, I came to a complete stop, then started counting, one-two … Before I got to three, the car that had just approached the stop sign to my right did not come to a complete stop. It glided past the sign. I peered through my front windshield, squinting to see who was behind the wheel. I could have sworn I saw a woman with white hair. It’s an elderly driver, I thought. I continued in the direction of the store, following her. When she approached the next stop sign, about one hundred yards ahead, again, she glided past. She made a wide arc across the parking lot of the grocery store, driving faster than she should have been, then pulled into a handicapped spot. I parked my car, got out, saw the offender – indeed, it was a white-haired woman who looked like she was in her late seventies. I wanted to run up to her and say, “Do you know what you just did? You went through two stop signs.” But I didn’t. Why? I thought I was over-reacting. In the grocery store, I saw her shuffling along, pushing a cart down an aisle. I walked close behind her, wanted to say, “Excuse me,” but, again, I didn’t. Instead, I purchased my groceries then left, still thinking about why I didn’t tell her she had failed to come to a complete stop, and that she could have hit someone. The truth is I figured she would scream at me, and say, “What if I were an eighteen-year old, would you scold me then?”

Legitimate question.

Maybe; maybe not. Probably. No. Yes. I don’t know.

What would you do?


  1. good question. I remember a time I scolded someone for throwing a cigarette out of their car (“don’t you know it’s fire season?) only to have them throw bark back at me with words I cannot publish. The senior situation is touchy. Maybe it’s time to make sure everyone over the age of 65 is tested every year.

    • I agree with testing over a certain age. Some states, like California, already do so. But I also believe that when we (not just older drivers) renew our licenses, we should undergo an eye exam. It’s irresponsible of the DMVs to allow us to renew our licenses via mail year after year without closer inspection. I know this sounds like big brother – believe me, I am not of that camp.

  2. So what if she were 18 years old? Failing to stop is still a violation, regardless of age.

    • Hi Rick. Yes, I agree with your comment. I admit it’s too easy to point the finger at elderly drivers, especially for those of us who have been harmed by their errant choices. Thanks for commenting. Best, Melissa

  3. I would address the issue — first, I would apologize for “interfering”, following I would just tell her or him what I saw and possibly the consequences of her/his actions. If there was a police around (what a coincedence) I would let the officer know. This person could of, or eventually run over another human being — and then what!! just because I dared not to get involved — perhaps I am at fault as well — “something to think about”.

    • Yes, Dora, turning our heads the other way does not necessarily equate with innocence. Thanks for contributing.

  4. For elder seniors — lets say 70+ years, maybe prior to getting their drivers license, they can get signed off by a doctor, that are mentally and physically able to drive — of course signing a release that does not make doctor’s liable in case of an accident – just a thought

    • Dora, thanks for contributing. If only we could agree on a definition for “elders.”

  5. I took away the keys of a good friend. She had a stroke and was told by her doctor not to drive for
    3 months. Two weeks after her stroke, I caught her driving. She was only 66 years old. She became so mad at me and tried (unsuccessfully) to lure them away from me. I wrote to her daughters to take responsibility for the keys and they refused. Since I am not “family”, I was felt that it was not my responsibility, but I did not want to live with the consequences if I did not act.
    Currently she is in a nursing home with dementia.

    • Mary, good for you for trying. I’m glad to know that your friend is finally in a safe place.

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