Senior Drivers- Part One of a Special Report 

Joy Hollowell

Nearly 73% of Mainers over the age of 75 have a current driver’s license.But whether they’re valid drivers is often a point of contention.We’ll meet two senior citizens who lost their licenses…one by law, the other by choice.================”I was on a hill next to the Penobscot Theater, waiting for a stop light to change, and there was a car in front of me, also stopped. And all of a sudden, I smacked into it. He jumped out, ran back and said, ‘What’s the matter with you, are you drunk?'”BIll Carlin wasn’t drunk. The 82-year old had fallen asleep at the wheel.”I thought to myself, I hit this car but suppose I’d been in the lead car and a young family with their children had been walking in front of me. I might have mowed them all down, so that really frightened me.”The very next day, Carlin took himself off the road.”I decided I just couldn’t drive anymore,” said the senior citizen.”I got a letter from the Secretary of State alerting me that they were suspending my license for medical reasons.”57-year old susan look was in shock.”It was a wide range of emotions- anger, sadness, just didn’t know what to do,” said Susan.Look learned that someone had actually called the state Department of Motor Vehicles, concerned about her driving and the safety of others on the road.”And I have to say, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because I took driving lessons and learned so many things that had changed, because I had been driving since I was 18. A good 40 years, and I’d picked up some bad habits,” says Susan.Look eventually earned her license back. She says she now has a greater appreciation for why driving is a privilege, not a right.”I really value my license today and I’m not willing to take any risks,” says Susan.(video of Bill Carlin walking)As for Bill Carlin, this is his mode of transportation these days. “I need help particularly getting to the market, and friends and my sister are very nice about taking me to the market,” says Bill.Bill also uses public transit, as well as services through Eastern Area Agency on Aging.It’s been more than a year since he’s gotten behind the wheel, and as it turns out…”I actually don’t miss it that much,” says Bill.===========The Eastern Area Agency on Aging offers two services for seniors who don’t drive to get to and from medical appointments.Elizabeth West is for those who are NOT eligible for MaineCare. It provides up to $500 towards transportation reimbursement in a fiscal year. Seniors can use either the EAAA’s van, or a taxi service and get mileage reimbursement.Med Rides provides up to $100 toward transportation reimbursement in a fiscal year. The rides must be provided by someone other than the individual or a paid service such as a taxi. For more information, you can contact the Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-432-7812 or go to their website,