A very touching story just appeared on msn.com that describes how a couple, married for 72 years, died within an hour of one another while holding hands in the ICU. The two had earlier been involved in a car accident where they both suffered fatal injuries. The biggest lump in your throat moment comes as the result of this quote;

"It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going," said Dennis Yeager. "But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat? The nurse checked and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up."

However, despite the emotional charm this story instills, there's a dark lining. Apparently, the accident was caused by the elderly couple when they failed to yield properly at a stop sign. They collided with another vehicle whose occupants suffered serious injuries. Furthermore, the elderly man driving the car "was facing pending action by the Iowa Department of Transportation to have his license removed."

When Is It Time For A Senior To Stop Driving?

A quick search on Google for "elder driver kills" results in 2.9 million results with headlines such as: "Elderly Driver Kills Pedestrian, Keeps Going With Body in Windshield" and "Elderly Driver Who Killed 10 Is Sentenced to Probation." Similarly, the search term "drunk driver kills" results in 3.2 million results. "Teen driver kills" results in 1.3 million results.

Of the three classes of individuals above, only drunk drivers are actually physically restricted from driving when a vehicle breathalyzer, or ignition interlock system, is forced into their cars. These systems force the drivers to prove their sober state before they're allowed to start the car. This is a great first step, but can this idea be applied to elderly drivers who have suspect driving records?

Here's what I propose that mirrors the ignition interlock system. This new system includes a series of simple logical reasoning and motor skills tests that must be passed before a car will start. All tests could be performed on a computer touchscreen, which would ask a series of basic questions such as "What comes next in this series: 2, 4, 8, 16 __," which would test the driver's logic. The motor tests could be as simple as asking the driver to press dots on the screen in a certain sequence.

Now that I think of it, perhaps everyone should be forced to undergo this type of testing before they're allowed behind the wheel.  In 2009 there were over 30,000 fatal auto accident crashes in the U.S. that resulted in over 33K deaths (Census Data). Until cars can safely drive themselves, why shouldn't we demand more of drivers?