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on Oct 17, 2013
People 75 and older should be required to take a driving test every year. The roads and sidewalks would be safer. On the other hand, there should be more programs to get seniors around so they can still have their independence. A discount card for cabs would be great, also far cheaper rates for the train and bus. I know they already have discount rates but they should be far cheaper. People are on a fixed income. I was across the street when this happened working at the toy store, no good.
@Andy The driver lives in Woodside and drives a one year old BMW SUV. Why on earth should taxpayers subsidize cab and bus fairs for this gentleman? Senior doesn't mean poor.
SUVs are difficult for many American adults to drive safely. In addition, SUVs cause more injuries than small cars when they hit pedestrians. We really should require special more advanced drivers licenses for vehicles above a certain size or weight. That license should require a stricter test and regular re-tests, for drivers of all ages.
I agree with Andy. More times than once I have seen a driver that did not have good command of the vehicle and it was a senior. It is great that people are continuing to be active at that age. But I am having a hard time understanding how someone over the age of 75 or 80 should be driving a 2000 lb vehicle. I don't hear of cases such as the one that happened today with younger drivers. If it was my parent they would not be driving at that age.
Laura - the article doesn't say what model BMW SUV, but I think these things are 5000 pounds and up. A compact car would be around 2000 pounds.
Jesus 90 and driving. accelerating forward rather than reverse. GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!!!!! The kids were on the sidewalk where they thought they were safe.
I agree with Andy, that people over 75 need more frequent testing, both on the road and on paper. Reactions are so much slower, even if the mind is still sharp.
There are a LOT of elderly drivers, regardless of what the Measure D advocates say!
Given the driving I see every day around here, every driver should be tested every year -- although no one would want to pay the taxes necessary. Just today I was stuck in traffic next to a woman who was talking on her phone and gesticulating with the other hand. I guess she was steering with her knees. Behind me was a woman who was obviously texting, only looking up occasionally to see what what happening. They were in their 30s or 40s. Then you have the red-light runners at El Camino and Sand Hill and El Camino and Oregon/Page Mill and El Camino and Embarcadero, to name a few hot spots...Didn't see many old people among them.
Its not just old people that need to be reminded how to drive properly and obey the laws.
I came from Oak Grove and found a big blockage there on Santa Cruz. I saw the car... still there against Walgreens. I saw Channel 5 TV truck... I also saw sooooo many police cars. Way too many..... overkill in police attendance. Use maybe 3 police, or 4.... but... there were so many police cars. That is a waste of salary to pay them.... they were not at all, all necessary there. They just weren't. There were too many police cars.... not at all necessary.
In the last few months I witnessed a senior driver falling asleep at the wheel, not driving well enough to stay in their lane on busy El Camino and most recently, backing their car up and hitting mine (despite my hand on my horn) in the Safeway Parking lot!
I agree that people over 75 should have driver's tests every year. It would be wonderful if folks voluntarily surrendered their licences, but suspedt that is unlikely to happen. I wonder if the man who hit the two children will continue to drive and insist that this was a one time event that could happen to anyone.
Please give us frequent updates on the little boy. He is in all our hearts.
Just last week I saw a man hobble (so much so I was watching to be sure he didn't fall and get hurt) to his car with the help of a cane. Then he got into his car and backed up and pulled away. I could not believe someone that can barely walk is still allowed to drive! I seriously was tempted to call the police, but didn't because I realized they would probably not be able to do anything about it. I would NOT be surprised if that man ends up hitting and killing someone. I'm sorry, I have elderly parents too, but driving is a privilege, no a right. If you can barely walk without falling, you should not be driving.
I hope that this tragedy prompts at least a local political discussion leading to regular screening of the oldest seniors who wish to retain their drivers' licenses. 0ne may be tempted to fault the elderly man who did this, but in the end, we have a system that is too shy of regulating behaviors that adversely impact the common good, in favor of appeasing the loudest lobbyists, often under the guise of preserving individual freedoms. Please don't get me wrong here, as i feel horribly for the two 6-yr old boys and am sickened by the episode. I am merely asking how best to prevent it from happening again. Anger surely won't help. I'd be surprised if the senior behind the wheel is not as dumfounded as the rest of us and riddled with guilt. This is a case where proper government intervention, even at the local level, would certainly have trumped the threat of liability and litigation as a preventive measure. i would like to open the discussion and ask those reading, if they agree, to voice this sentiment with their local representatives. thank you
@David, we have a system that is too shy of regulating behaviors?
Statistics and common sense will tell you that most accidents and deaths result from teenagers and drunks. SOME elderly people do not belong in cars, but far more dangerous drivers are soccer moms on their i-phones,young men and/or drunks, so get a grip!
Some months back, an elderly woman drove her car into the front of a pizza restaurant in Menlo Park, causing extensive damage and barely missed several patrons that were eating inside. Another elderly man hit the gas instead of the brakes at Jordan Middle school and hit a couple of students. Recently an elderly man killed a man in a crosswalk in Redwood City. These types of accidents with the elderly seem to happen too frequently with awful consequences. We stopped my elderly grandfather from driving anymore when it became apparent he was a danger on the road to himself and others.
An elderly lady I know has just voluntarily decided to stop driving, but she is keeping her car so that others can drive her. She finds public transport doesn't suit her needs and she is unable to get into other people's SUVs as she needs to fall into a car and be helped (pulled) out rather than pushed up and in.
Until such time as public transit can meet the needs of the elderly as well as such things as patience by drivers to enable someone to sit down before moving off, there is very little incentive for them to use it. Many car designs do not work well for the elderly and also insurance is a little vague as to who can drive a car that an elderly person keeps so that someone else can drive it for them even though they are not planning to drive themselves. At least, these are the sorts of problems this lady is having to overcome.
It is no wonder that the elderly keep driving long after they should have given up the keys.
I work a block from the accident and saw the aftermath. It was terrible. Yes, definitely some seniors should not be driving. I hope that man is held accountable for the injuries he inflicted on that poor child. However, my own personal experience is that "trophy wife" types, which Janet called "soccer moms" are often much, much worse drivers than the great majority of seniors who take extra precautions. These young women are usually driving huge SUVs they do not know how to handle (status symbols), and they are totally oblivious to their surroundings. A few months ago, I watched one barrel down the road in a large white Lexus SUV, approaching a no-stop sign intersection. To her credit, she did have her left turn signal on. However, so did I, and she being to my left should have yielded the left turn to me. I just looked at her and assumed she was totally unaware of my presence, so with no one behind me I let her go... otherwise, she would have crashed into me. Instead, she crashed into a motorcyclist, traveling at a very low speed, who was merely crossing the intersection. The motorcyclist had the right of way. This was a horrible accident that could have been avoided if that woman were aware of her surroundings and known that she was the one who needed to slow down and let the other drivers, who had the right of way, proceed. Like her, there are so many others... young women who should not be driving cars that are too large for them to handle properly, and they drive while they are texting, talking, putting on makeup, primping, adjusting their clothing, doing everything except paying attention to driving. Just go to any local parking lot and observe these kinds of drivers in multi-tasking action, and hope you or someone you care about are nowhere near them.
Trophy wives???? Soccer Moms.
Somehow I think this is getting a little ridiculous.
BTW, our family bought a SUV when the oldest boy turned 13 and was over 6'. He, his peers and their sport gear was unable to fit into a minivan without taking out the seats. Bring back the station wagon - they no longer exist and they filled a need.
We do need to test the very elderly to ensure they are safe to drive. Perhaps upon every license renewal at age 75, and then more frequently as they age. Deterioration in ability can happen quickly.
But I also think we should move more aggressively to remove driving privileges among younger unsafe drivers too. If you get 2 tickets in the last few years, then you should have take a driving test to renew your license.
In particular, people with certain medical conditions should not be able to drive. Someone with a cane but who is alert and has good reflexes certainly can drive. But someone who is not alert or with poor reflexes or has a history of passing out or has repeated DUIs should not be allowed to drive.
There are alternatives to public transit for those elderly who can afford big BMW SUVs and don't want to take public transit. Consider Uber, for example.
We should also increase the mandatory liability insurance levels for cars (it hasn't been raised in years). And we should have periodic safety inspection for cars (like some other states), not just smog checks.
In agreement with Janet. Those bashing persons over a particular age, please check statistics. You will find Janet is correct. It has become common place to degrade older persons. The label "senior" has contributed in creating a severe, national disrespect versus one of honor and gratitude. Keep in mind: everyone bashing will be getting older, not younger. Is this how you wish to be treated ? Our thoughts are with these boys and their family.
@ Cat Mom, did you report the accident to the police as an eye witness?
He will walk away from this with out anything sticking. He is an ex Attorney General or something like that, and he knows all the judges.
""trophy wife" types, which Janet called "soccer moms" are often much, much worse drivers"
Janet said, "most accidents and deaths result from teenagers and drunks. SOME elderly people do not belong in cars, but far more dangerous drivers are soccer moms..."
This is crazy. Why on Earth are you quoting statistics from one group and blaming another demographic? Nice data manipulation.
And soccer moms are not trophy wives. Different demographic altogether. No trophy wife would stoop so low. Being a soccer mom is much more difficult than putting on makeup and shopping. I'm a soccer mom and I'm a much more experienced driver than my husband who bikes to work. Sunday driver much? (yes, another group)
Anyway, I think there are a lot of unqualified and dangerous drivers out there. Drive around Escondido Village on campus much? That's scary, too. (oops, another!)
The way to help is to make it harder to get and keep a license and I support that wholeheartedly, for EVERYONE.
I hope the injured boy is OK. What a terrible situation I really feel sorry for innocent children who are the victims of adult bad judgement.
- There does need to be some mechanism to see if older drivers are competent to drive, think and react fast enough but I think a yearly driving test is out of the question because of the cost and inconvenience.
- Sure more public transportation is needed, but I think anyone who can afford the BMW SUV is not going to be using public transportation.
- I think a lot of these cars, especially the luxury ones will have automatic breaking or bumper sensors to stop them in the not too distant future.
Can we get a clearer report of exactly what happened though, there is no real indication that this occurred because of age, maybe there was just a problem ... but places where cars park should have barriers when people walk behind those areas to protect them. How scary and traumatizing for the kids.
I hope the child's condition improves and he fully recovers. There are a couple of other incidents indicating that the elderly are more likely to confuse/mistake which foot pedal to push than younger drivers.
DMV awards automatic renewals for drivers with clean records and requires only the passing of an eye exam & written test after 3 or 4 such renewals. I believe that there should be no automatic renewals for people over 80 and that an actual driving test be part of the renewal.
I know 2 elderly drivers who first failed the written quiz but passed on 2nd tries after being heavily coached by relatives. One wife told me she knew her husband shouldn't be driving but if he stopped, she'd have to drive him everywhere he wanted to go & it would interfere with her social engagements.
every one stop and just say a prayer for the kid and his family great job and my hat off for the menlo park police , fire department and every one that help the yesterday .
Right on Cat Mom, agreed and thanks.
Another reason to say NO on D!
It will probably be decided that he confused the brake and gas pedals. That can happen to anyone who's overloaded. Many common causes have already been mentioned. I did it once when I was 15 and just learning to drive. Suddenly, the car is doing something different than you expected, and reacting to that in time to stay out of trouble is hard. In just a few seconds horrible damage can result from this very simple mistake.
I've known seniors who, after one close call, gave up their licenses. I've known others who stubbornly stuck to the belief they were good drivers long after it was clear that they no longer had the necessary acuity. It seems to be as much about pride as it is about convenience or independence. Too often, the same problem that makes the driver unsafe, also makes it hard for him to see that it's so. Families, friends, and neighbors should intervene, for everyone's safety.
The DMV encourages people to identify potentially unsafe drivers so their abilities can be re-evaluated. See Web Link.
In light of an accident like this (at least the second such case involving seniors), why is the Palo Alto city council pushing for high-density senior housing right on a street with the heaviest bike traffic for kids traveling to/from Gunn High School?
I am much younger than the driver in this incident and I have noticed a significant decrease in my reflexes, road awareness and reaction time, as well as in my equilibrium, although I have always been blessed with great reflexes and am in top physical and mental condition. Unfortunately, the aging process slows us down. 90 year old people just shouldn't drive cars, period. Personally I have decided that I would quit driving at 75, unless my health forces me to quit earlier, exactly because I don't want to be responsible for an incident like this. There are plenty of dangerous young drivers, but I notice daily how senior drivers come close to hitting pedestrians and cyclists because they aren't even aware of their presence on the road or when they cross the road. I was once hit by a very old driver while cycling near the Stanford shopping center and the driver was never even aware that he hit a cyclist.
> However, my own personal experience is that "trophy wife" types, which Janet called "soccer moms" are often much, much worse drivers than the great majority of seniors who take extra precautions.
I just read this and find this so absurd ... picking on a class of people that might get little sympathy, is sort of sexism in defense of ageism ... i.e. it is crazy.
Why would anyone say this ... particularly since there are likely no statistics or events to prove it? Are we seeing kids being hit by soccer Moms in the news ... or is there a conspiracy to cover it up by the "trophy husbands"? ;-)
How would you even decide, perceive of know who is or who is not a "trophy wife" ? LOL ... I really hope people are not taking this seriously, that is a seriously nasty comment in several ways.
There are certain people, correlated with age that maybe should be regularly tested, no doubt, we all know that. It happened in my family and I had to write the DMV about it.
Family members themselves can be helpful in this.
But designing roads, intersections, off and on ramps to be easily negotiable helps everyone. Putting barriers to protect pedestrians in downtown areas is helpful too. And let's please not forget ... look at who is driving like crazy people on the freeway making everyone else have to watch out while getting fatigued and holding their steering wheels until their knuckles turn white ... the young people in fast cars - I see them virtually every time I have to drive something, there is some non-aged person cutting through traffic, not stopping at stop signs, getting stuck in the middle of intersections on the red light downtown ... we all know it, we all see it - everyday.
Let's stop trying to use one event to attack older people ... most older people are slow drivers, and they are safe because of that for the most part, but occasionally something like this happens.
Just anecdotally I was eating lunch one afternoon in Mountain View with a friend on a workday when a car came crashing right into the Sushi restaurant, just the other side of Castro St. I don't know how we were not severely injured or even killed, but it all seemed to happen in slow motion and somehow everything turned out all right - just some glass and slices in the back of my shirt - a total write-off. The driver was not particularly old, perhaps old-er or past middle age, but had somehow gone all the way down the street backwards and ended up going right into the wall. I think the thing that saved us and others was that there was a big planter right outside the plate glass window that shattered and sent glass all over us. I don't think we are going to put a significant dent into events like these by persecuting older drivers.
The worst part of this is that the police can't cite him with anything except driving on the sidewalk unless one of the victims dies. Our laws are way too lenient on people who cause "carnage" (pun intended). If the consequences for bad driving were much higher we might find people taking their driving responsibilities more seriously.
I remember being at the car wash and witnessing an elderly driver backing up...right INTO the wall at the car wash, smash. Employees tried to stop the driver, waving their arms and yelling, "stop" or similar, to no avail.
This case in this post is VERY scary, involving serious perhaps lethal injury to a young child who was on the sidewalk, where he should have been safe. I think if ANYONE (elderly or teen) is a driver who hits someone on a sidewalk, that driver should have his/her licenser removed for 2 years and significant re-testing required for renewal of that license (assuming criminal charges are not part of the equation, no drunk driving, etc.)
I don't know for sure, but it appears from following the news that there are way too many drunk drivers out there, who keep driving, and a priority should be placed on being certain they are off the roads (not just having the license taken away - apparently, from the news, some keep driving nonchalantly) - these persons pose major risks to the public.
What I think is a good point is that we are all individuals and SOME elderly can drive safely, some cannot.
A big factor with elderly drivers is whether s/he can turn his/her head (to monitor other cars, prepare to change lanes, enter the highway and so on). I do think that DMV driving tests (not just written tests, which are more bureaucratic and not so practical) should be more frequent after age 80.
I strenuously dislike elderly OR teens driving huge and heavy SUV type vehicles (status badged or not); please use some common sense and operate a vehicle that is smaller and easier to operate/see out of.
@Donald Nope - the worst part of this has nothing to do with the police. And punishment does nothing to make people take "driving responsibilities" more seriously. A driving responsibility might be what? Being insured? Apparently he was that as well as licensed. And not drinking? Not that either. So what exactly would you like the police to do?
Actually, this will probably be used by driverless car engineers as fuel for "inner city or town" driverless areas. It's coming.
Yes, have seniors and young drivers tested every year. Young drivers driving cars furnished by their parents should be tested ervy week end.
I meant the worst part of the article was the part about the police not being able to do anything. Of course the worst part of the situation is that the boy is so seriously injured. When I wrote of the responsibilities of driving I meant treating it as if it is serious and dangerous business, and having a concern for the safety of others. Don't do it if you aren't up to the task physically or mentally, and pay attention when you are doing it. I know that behavior is more easily changed with carrots than sticks, but there are no carrots here so we need to make the sticks bigger.
I look forward to the day when we have self-driving cars, but that is a long time away.
Maybe everyone of all ages should be tested every 5 years. I see SO many terrible and dangerous drivers of ALL ages. The cell phone talkers and texters have made thing so much worse, plus the drunks just get back on the road, even without their license.
First, my prayers & well-wishes to the two kids, especially the one in ICU.
Second, I agree with everyone on here who thinks that more frequent (and stringent) test should be required as you age. It's for the greater good.
Frequent testing of dangerous drivers who aren't seniors will not help, since they are bad and dangerous drivers due to attitude and character issues, which stem from their personality. Hopefully, those drivers are caught and lose their driving privileges. Older drivers present a different problems which stems from the aging process;slower reflexes, slower reaction time, lose of road and surroundings awareness, fear of using peripheral vision, etc. They are not necessary bad, dangerous and inconsiderate drivers by nature, they are much more like aging commercial pilots who just can't be trusted to fly planes anymore.
I meet many elderly drivers who insist they can drive at night, on freeways, etc. Its scary and I try my best to explain normal limitations for driving. Our body/eyes/hearing were not designed for the purpose of driving at age 80+.
IF cars need to be "smogged checked' by professionals, can't older drivers be "tested' and "restricted as needed" by their doctors/professionals? DMV does not have the finances, time or knowledge to limit those older drivers who maybe a danger.
It should be the expense of the older driver to get approval from their doctor on driving ability: ex.
no freeways, limited areas near home, no night driving etc. Just as its a drivers expense to get a smog check....
I am all for moving people that are not fit for driving off the roads ... but every time I go out driving I seem to see several NOT-ELDERLY people who are unfit to drive ... and I have yet to see one get caught or do anything in front of the police that gets them caught.
Today I saw a woman talking on her cellphone veer in front of me at the last minute when traffic was slowing to cut in front of me in my lane and continue doing that all the way to the San Antonio exit. We have got to monitor people's driving better - because it's not just old people.
I see more people slow through stop signs in Palo Alto now than I do stopping at them. And yet I hear more about bicyclists who cut through intersections when no one is there.
Yesterday, on Cowper, a woman in a Beemer was stopped at an intersection, texting. The two cars behind her each honked three times before she looked up. She was all of 28-30 years old!
Drivers in my neighborhood blow through stop signs all the time, apparently convinced that their destination has priority over anyone else's, and regardless of children biking to school.
There are also a lot of bad drivers in Palo Alto who did not learn to drive until over 35 years of age, and never quite got the hang of it. I have also been at the San Jose and Redwood City DMVs and saw family members help test-takers cheat on their written test.
Point is, one does not have to be elderly to be a bad driver.
In Paris, when someone reaches the age of 65, they get a Naviance card that enables them to ride the bus and Metro for free. Here we have the Clipper card, but it's only reduced price, not free (but still better than nothing). We need to encourage drivers to take public transportation in any event (of any age). It will be better for all of us. But it would help if we had better public transportation, and if they were not allowed to strike.
My father-in-law had the his driver's license taken away at the recommendation of his doctor as did my husband's uncle (both aged 86). I think physicians can be a great help in removing unfit older drivers from the road.
This is a terrible tragedy. While I feel just awful for the injured boy and his family, I can't help but feel some compassion and sadness for the elderly driver and his family too! Poor man was obviously deeply shaken by the incident. Perhaps he was unfit to drive, but still lets have some compassion for him. He didn't act with malice. How would you feel if he was your father? Your grandfather? Your husband? I wish the best to both families.
To Keep Unsafe Drivers off the RoadThe police came on the scene very quickly and extricated the motorcyclist, who was seriously injured. There were several witnesses to the accident, and I did recount the events to the police officers.
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