I am 84. I quit driving two years ago on Dec. 31, 2010. At first it was very difficult. It's still not easy.
I spent the first six months having anxiety attacks whenever I had to arrange transportation. Two years later, this still happens when I get last minute invitations.
I spent the next six months depressed and introspective while I learned to accept my new self-imposed lifestyle. Now when I hear a neighbor say, “I was bored so I hopped in the car and went shopping,” I confess the sin of envy.
It's not easy.
I took the better part of the year to assemble a list of available public and private transportation:
It takes research and imagination. Other alternatives:
Each of the above public facilities has its individual quirks.
It takes creativity. A friend takes me grocery shopping every Wednesday. Good friends live in the country, far from the bus route. Paratransit delivers and picks me up at a restaurant in the village — my friend ferries me to her house. For after-dark events, I have a list of folks who enjoy similar things so I have both transportation and a date.
There were hints to decreasing driving ability. I list them in ascending order: I found it too stressful to drive freeways to San Francisco or Oakland — thus there were less frequent visits with my family. I took three right turns to avoid a left turn. I stopped parallel parking. I drove no more than 20 miles from home. No more night driving. My knuckles turned white when I grasped the wheel in traffic. At the intersection of Highway 12 and Fulton Road, I looked down and saw my foot on the accelerator instead of the brake. I corrected myself, didn't bash into anyone. But I immediately remembered the Santa Monica man whose “stuck foot” plowed through a farmer's market full of people in 2003, leaving 10 dead and 63 injured.