Experts have long debated whether elderly drivers should be forced to retest for their driver’s license amid concerns over roadway safety. And the debate has once again unearthed itself after a 100-year-old elderly driver made headlines this week for seriously injuring a group of parents and children in Los Angeles after accidentally backing up his vehicle into the crowd.
Police say Preston Carter struck the group unknowingly, and officials suspect the
could have been chalked up to confusion between foot pedals. Authorities say that Carter was not under the influence of any drug or alcohol. Instead, the accident is said to have occurred by the loss of control over the car.
“It was a miscalculation on his part,” Capt. Jorge Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Police Department said according to
Several of the individuals were left in critical but stable condition.
The accident was unfavorably reminiscent of another collision when, in July 2003, another elderly driver struck a group of pedestrians at a farmer’s market in downtown Santa Monica. That accident killed 10 people and seriously injured 60 others.
Driver’s laws for the elderly in California
In the state of California, all drivers who are 70 years or older must submit to a vision and written test every five years. Everyone else – that is, anyone under 70 – can renew their driver’s license twice every five years if their record is clean.
, older drivers may pose a serious risk to others on the road. "It's a huge problem, and we really don't have any solutions to it yet," says Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association in a report at USA Today. "We need to keep moving on it and try to find solutions as quickly as possible."
Despite the so-called doom-and-gloom, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of car accident injury for your elderly loved one.
Until tighter laws for elderly drivers are passed, here’s what you can do.
3 essential rules for elderly drivers
An older person may not have the range of motion like they used to. Backs, necks, and even hands and feet can lose their flexibility over time. When an elderly person has a hard time moving, that might be an indicator that s/he may not be an ideal driver any longer.
Rule #2 – Keep an eye out for memory problems
A faded memory can contribute to problems on the road like forgetting to make full stops, confusing foot pedals, and parking or stopping in places that are not safe. If your elderly loved one is still driving, and you suspect a memory problem might be an issue, consider alternative ways of transportation.
Rule #3 – Make sure the vehicle is safely equipped
If your elderly loved one is still driving -- and you believe they are still able to do so -- then help them stay on top of vehicle maintenance. Things like replacing windshield wipers, changing the oil regularly, and checking the tires are all important steps in keeping your loved one safe.