At some point in an person’s life, they have to decide if they should still drive their car. Loss of independence must be weighed against personal safety. It isn’t always easy for someone to admit they are too old to drive.
Portland, Maine has come up with an innovative solution. Senior citizens can join a program whereby they donate their old car in exchange for free rides. This is how it works. You donate your car to the program. The value of the car is put on an account for the person who donated it. The car becomes part of the car pool and is used to pick up program participants. Participants pay for the pickup service through their account. Friends and family can donate to the account to keep it active.
The program is working quite well. Because it’s run completely on donations and volunteer service, no state money has been needed. All a participant has to do is call for a driver to pick them up. They can then go do their grocery shopping, go to doctor’s appointments, or visit friends. They retain their independence and their family members don’t have to worry about them being on the road.
The program is the brainchild of Katherine Freund who knows firsthand about elderly drivers. In 1988, her three year old son was run over by an elderly driver. The man didn’t even see her son and was convinced he hit a dog. Her son was in a coma, but eventually recovered.
Freund realized this was a community problem. Seniors who were incapable of driving still needed to get out and about. She pitched her idea which became the “Independent Transportation Network”. The 1 year pilot program has been a huge success. Other states are looking at the program as a solution to the growing needs of their elderly citizens.