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on Oct 21, 2013
No one over 80 should be driving anymoe.
Some 80 years old people are great drivers, some are not. I do think that after a certain age - maybe 75 - we should require an annual vision test and behind the wheel test. I think over 80, people are required to retake the written portion, but if you are 80 and driving still, I don't think the issue will be knowing the rules of the road, its the physical ability to obey them that is an issue.
I read in the initial article that once bystanders were able to pull the confused driver out of the car so they could put the engine in neutral and push it off this poor child, he asked for his walker. This whole situation is unfortunate all around, but I am curious:
Does someone who needs a walker also require an adaptation for the foot pedals in a motor vehicle?
No. Anyone over the age of 75 should not be able to drive. Sorry to the few folks that can drive "safely" at that age but at that point in life your reflexes and vision and hearing and basically all your senses are gone. End of discussion.
So glad to hear the little boy's condition has been upgraded.
We are terrible drivers around here, all the way around. I'd like to see more stringent requirements and testing for everyone. We've had au pairs from Mexico to Poland to Germany, and we've taken them all to the RWC DMV for licenses. All I can really say about that is that training helps. It's not enough to be over 16 and breathing.
I have said it before and got lots of negative comments, but a lot of these type of accidents would not happen in a stick shift. It takes a lot more coordination to drive a stick and if an elderly person made a mistake, the normal thing that would happen would be for the car to stall. If someone does not have enough dexterity in their legs to drive a stick it would be another test of whether they need to have their license taken away.
I know I'm going to get flamed for this but besides being elderly, he was driving a BMW. In my experience a large percentage of people who drive BMWs speed, will not wait their turn and generally drive with a bad attitude. I'm not saying everyone, but this car seems to attract a certain kind of personality. If you don't believe me, just observe when you're on the road..
What a relief to know that the little boy who was so badly injured is improving. Good to know the person who caused this grievous injury is without a license-- however, that may still not stop him from driving.
Several years ago, I was hit head-on by a driver who had no insurance and was driving on a suspended license. I was seven months pregnant and the injury to my abdomen killed the baby. Having no license or insurance did not stop this guy from driving recklessly. The reason he had lost his license was that he had racked up too many points on his record.
Local DA's are really weak on pedestrian safety issues. They usually require 3 separate violations before a driver is charged with reckless driving. California is the land of the car and drivers rights have to be protected at all costs, including the cost of innocent children's lives.
midtown resident, I totally agree with you about BMW drivers. They are arrogant and self-entitled, sometimes to the point of danger.
To the posters who want to yank all licenses of people ages 75+: I assume you have already volunteered to serve as personal chauffeur and errand boy for all the people in your neighborhood who fall into that demographic.
When you really, really think about this case...I, at least, conclude this person should have his driver's license permanently removed. Full stop. There were witnesses, regardless of whether the D.A. decides to charge. I assume civil lawsuits are forthcoming, and they are deserved. It's time for people to take responsibility when they operate huge motor vehicles. No dissembling, so second, third chances.
I completely agree with Resident that old people should have to drive stick shifts! Automatic shifting is too easy to drive so we have people texting, applying makeup, eating. etc. while driving stick shifts. Return everyone to stick shifts and the streets will be safer!
The stereotype of BMW drivers is just a stereotype and simply untrue. There are many SUV drivers of various brand names of SUVs who are rude drivers.
Can anyone with experience of local law please tell us; is there no guaranteed infraction? The article seems to say that the driver was not yet found to be in any fault and may not be.
anonymous - the driver is clearly at fault, but criminal chargers are up to the DA and the DA tends to go easy on traffic crimes. The driver will probably settle in civil court and agree (with his insurance company) to pay for the boys' medical expenses, which sound like they will be considerable.
@ Paly Alum.
Read what I said carefully. I didn't say most bad drivers drive BMWs. I said most BMW drivers drive with a bad attitude. There's a difference.
However a WSJ article says studies in the US and UK confirm what you said - that the worst drivers -judged in a few categories are BMWs although many fancy car drivers behave badly too. e.g. not stopping when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk and even road rage. Apparently Prius drivers also topped one category. Probably too busy looking at their milage meters.
Barry and AR - Remember the movie Logan's Run? Maybe everyone should be killed when they turn 30. Problem solved. Hope that kid is doing ok
How is the boy that was in critical condition??
To all of you who would ban drivers over the age of 75, I would suggest banning, as well, anyone under the age of 25 because that age group is by FAR the more accident prone. I worked accident claims for an Insurance company for 17 years and I should know.
Some of these sweeping generalizations are hysterical -- BMW owners have a bad attitude and drive aggressively, no one over 75 should drive. Really?
There is no magical age at which driving should not be allowed. I'm guessing that there are many 75+ drivers I'd rather see on the road than many 17-20 year-olds.
In response to the inquiry about a walker and driving -- it depends. If they have a walker because they have difficulty with weight-bearing pain or are recovering from a surgery, probably not an issue. If they have a walker because they have an illness that affects balance/orientation or bodily control then it's a different issue.
"bet he goes free": I couldn't agree more. The problem is that people believe driving to be a right. It is a priviledge, and one that should be stripped whenever a person is injured through obvious fault of the driver.
Perhaps age and condition contirbuted in this case, but the larger cultural issue of entitlement to drive is the real issue here. Roughly 15% of the over-20 population [in my 100% non-scientific observation] have the skills and maturity to drive. The rest belong on transit, in cabs or ped/bike.
How about anyone with a handicapped placard has to have a driving test every few years? It's not the age that's the issue. My Mom is 87 going on 50. I have no qualms about her driving. I know others who are 50 going on 87. But someone with a walker should have to prove that the handicap does not also impair driving. Doctors can report to the DMV if they want to. The law should be changed so that doctors MUST report to the DMV if they have a patient who shouldn't be driving.
I'm in my 70's, very fit, quite capable of chewing gum and walking but, I do notice that I occasionally miss a cue and get honked at or get the middle finger. Its a sign that I have to slow down and pay more attention. I would welcome much more stringent testing of seniors over 60, anyone taking any meds that might impair function behind the wheel, anyone needing corrective lenses over the age of 55, and anyone who first learned to drive over the age of 45.
Costs for implementing such a stringent program should be borne by the driver, not the state. Driving is a privilege.
Autos are lethal, multi-ton machines, under control most of the time. That's not good enough.
We are an aging population and need to be monitored more closely.
My great grandmother is by far the most in shape "old" person I've known/seen in years. She drives herself, in her Mercedes Benz, whenever and wherever. She likes the freedom and being self sufficient.
She cuts the mold off of food (to not waste), she takes "military showers" (to save water), and she drives when traveling (to pack as much as she likes). She is 92 years young and I believe her license should have been taken MANY MANY years ago.
I'm not sure what is required to keep your CDL at that age, but I know she drives 295.6 miles = 4hrs 46mins North to renew her license in another city/county without question. Now THAT is where I see a problem. I'm not sure how the rules differ up there, but when renewing your CDL you should have to do it at a local DMV. And when you hit the age of being a Senior Citizen (65+), you should have to take the written and behind the wheel tests each time.
My family had discussed going over her head to her doctor (with definite probable cause) and when we tried she somehow found out and was FURIOUS!
@Sunday driver: I personally have volunteered to chauffeur her wherever she needs, but by the time I'm off work (5:30pm) and able to help, she's eaten dinner and headed for bed. I'm not sure what more I/we can do.
The world is full of Shoulda/Woulda/Coulda's.
Agree with Mutti, dissagree with Barry & AR.
There are those 90 going on 50 who live in places where there is no public transporation and it is too far and too steep to walk to places. Are you going to drive them around?
BUT I agree that there should be at least a bi-annual driving test, including road, reflex and eye tests.
I remember years ago when I stormed into my parents house with the generalization "they need to take all old people off the road!" I'd nearly been killed by two in a five mile drive. My stepmother said "you just wait, you will be old one day". To which I replied "they don't let me drive drunk now because my reflexes would be impaired, driving old and impaired is no different" Fast forward 20 years, she voluntarily took herself off the road and my father does all their driving. She is "only" 75 but just suddenly decided it was the right decision even though she didn't nearly kill someone. In fact I'm quite critical and would have thought she was fine. Unfortunately not everyone is so responsible or realistic about their skills. The DMV should do "in car testing" again after a certain age but also as friends, neighbors and family of these people we need to take responsibility to get our elderly who are no longer capable, off the road. My grandfather was really angry when we did it to him but he learned the bus system, took the occasional taxi or when one of his kids or grandkids could we would drive him. This 90 year old man did not want to squash a six year old and he probably was bot realistic about his abilities. I'm sure he and his family feel sick about it.
This specific case does seem to be associated with a driver's malfunction. I do hope the boys will recover perfectly.
Re preventing such and other horrendous accidents that are reported everyday around the bay area the following seems apparent to me:
1. Age alone is not a factor in driving competence.
2. Certain aspects of physical and mental condition are important.
3. There are a lot of "handicapped" licensed drivers across a broad age spectrum. Just look at the number of so labelled parking slots.
4. In my view the greatest hazards are associated with speeding almost every where, cutting in and out of lanes, and following much closer at the higher speeds than specified in the State's drivers manual.
5. Both local and state police should be given resources and expectations to enforce item 4 especially. [The subsequent potential savings in insurance payments could be assessed to reimburse the relevant police expense. The reduction in the suffering by traffic accident victims would be an enormous blessing. ]
Don't let the tragic circumstances pull you down to ageism and other knee-jerk reactions. Many people are excellent drivers for their entire lifetime while others are poor drivers for that same span of time. Procedures and rules are based on data, and not from individual examples. If hard data displays any trends regarding senior drivers and this kind of accident, then yes, it is a valid point. I don't think the data will support any kind of ageist comments about "no driving for over 75 or 80 years old" or other emotional responses. It would likely show what the insurance companies already know - accidental collisions and moving "violations" are most common in very young male drivers, 16-21 years, and not from senior citizens.
Paly Alum says: "I completely agree with Resident that old people should have to drive stick shifts!"
I am happy to say that as a 70-something I DRIVE A STICK SHIFT, and the only gaff I occasionally make is stalling my car on a slight up hill. It is impossible for me to step on the gas instead of the break, because if I havn't put the clutch in first and then put the car in gear, I'd stall and come to a complete stop.
I once suggested to a now retired peninsula Police Chief that all seniors should drive a stick shift - he thought it was a great idea!!
Hmmm - you can report your great grandmother directly to the DMV for a re-exam.
"Some of these sweeping generalizations are hysterical -- BMW owners have a bad attitude and drive aggressively"
Really? Its good to keep an open mind.I have seen this on the freeway any number of times. The advertised image of that car of amazing coolness attracts a certain kind of person. Do you not believe advertising works
This is no different that motorbikes attracting a certain kind of person with a certain attitude- not all but to a large extent.
Maybe this study was faked too?
Anyway, not to digress from the main issue of the accident and the well-being of this little child but I have been annoyed so many times by guys in BMWs esp young ones - there I counter the other stereotype - I had to have my say.
Berry, just wait until you turn 70!
Everybody ages differently. A middle aged driver who wasn't paying attention, rear ended me and then took off! A middle aged driver rear ended our teenaged daughter because "he expected that she would run the yellow-turning-red" on El Camino, which her judgment told her was 6 lanes across and not safe to risk that. I see people of all ages, but usually not oldies,
looking down while they drive so they can text or dial or whatever. I was behind an elderly woman in our area who blissfully did a left on a red light across traffic and blew through two stop signs on her way home. Thankfully she is off the road now.
I hope the boys will be all right and have no long term effects from this terrible accident.
What a tragedy. I'll stay away from the age debate but will add my frustration on the lack of legal avenues to punish drivers who harm pedestrians or bicyclists. Just a few months ago we heard the story of a boy hit on Park Avenue by a man driving without a license and with trace amounts of meth in his system who swerved into the bike lane and hit an 11 year old going to school. No charges were filed for hitting a kid and putting him in the hospital, the DA said they couldn't make a case. I understand that accidents do happen but it's amazing that there is no punishment for almost killing someone. I feel so bad for the family of the twins.
Here is a very useful link for older drivers and their families:
"Older Driver Safety
Warning Signs and Knowing When to Stop
Safe Senior Citizen Driving
As we age, it's normal for our driving abilities to change. By reducing risk factors and incorporating safe driving practices, many of us can continue driving safely long into our senior years. But we do have to pay attention to any warning signs that age is interfering with our driving safety and make appropriate adjustments. Even if you find that you need to reduce your driving or give up the keys, it doesn't mean the end of your independence. Seeking alternative methods of transportation can offer health and social benefits, as well as a welcome change of pace to life."
The stick shift idea is great, but lately how many stick shifts do you see in the showroom? Antique stick shifts may be available on some used car lots, but could be mechanically unsound, hence unsafe from the get go; other old stick shifts are likely to be expensive classics sold by specialty dealers. New stick shifts are uncommon, tend to be very expensive and are likely to be overpowerful. Required road tests, eye tests, and tests of reflexes would be a great help, whatever us oldsters are driving.
Midtown Resident, thank you for the link, it confirms what I have seen in Palo Alto and elsewhere, that BMW drivers, especially high school aged drivers given BMWs by Daddy, are arrogant drivers. Very similar to the Abercrombie & Fitch type person.
And, yes you can buy a stick - I drive one, I have a nice medium sized car and get good gas mileage and am perfectly happy.
One more thing: (dangerous driver) elderly persons may become shrieking mad when the idea is suggested to limit/stop driving, therefore it IS up to authorities (Dr., DMV, the police) to be on the lookout for that time and enforce it. It is also true communities need more transportation resources beyond "the bus," as many persons refuse to take the bus or it may be inconvenient.
Looking back up through these comments I really cannot believe the prejudiced, unsound and illogical ideas being suggested ... perhaps some people's license to use their brains ought to be taken away so they don't hurt themselves and others.
A couple of things to note....
* As Midtown Mom and the insurance companies already know - accidental collisions and moving "violations" are most common in very young male drivers, 16-21 years, and not from senior citizens.
* You can report any driver that is unsafe, but you can also report a family member to the DMV. That does not mean their license would automatically be taken away, but they would probably get tested. So, some people's families are at least partially responsible for some bad drivers.
* Some older people do accept the fact that they cannot drive anymore AND some older people have accidents for the same reasons other people do .... i.e. they are accidents, not necessarily having anything to do with being old or of diminished capacity. Driving if you are doing it right is not particularly difficult.
* What makes driving difficult - for me - is other drivers to a large extent. Drivers who swerve and change lanes a lot while on their phone, usually younger and clueless about what can happen if they misjudge. People who do not stay aware of what is going on around them.
* The designers of the roads and traffic features can be a problem. The 101 North to Embarcadero on-ramp always comes to mind for me ... there are just certain places that are difficult to coordinate, especially if you have to look backwards while you are doing it - and the road safety people never seem to bother to change or improve anything until there is loss of life.
Many time when I drive I put my iPhone up on the dashboard and video my experiences. It would be nice if I could turn some of that in to the police and actually have them do something about it since these days the police presence is so thin.
Another thing is that police should pull people over more just as a reality check - they do not have to give them a ticket. The other night I made a kind of bonehead move in downtown Mountain View. It was hard to make a u-turn at an intersection on Castro, and I ended up having to back up in the process and then continue on. I was immediately pulled over and checked out by the MV police, who just wanted to make sure I was not driving drunk, and he let me go. I apologized for the clumsy move but I didn't do anything wrong. I support the police in doing that, especially when it late or the bars just let out.
This particular story really hit me, as I'm sure it did most of the readers, but it could just as well have been someone else. Another anecdote is about a year ago I got rear ended in line at a local fast food place ... with enough force that if someone has been between me and the car who hit me they would have been injured severely. The driver a young women on a cellphone. To me at the time ... and now, I think something should have been done, because in line at a fast food place there is just no reason to suddenly lurch forward and hit someone ... it's more the circumstances than the driver. The police refused to even give her a drunk test. Anyway, I just used it as an excuse to not eat fast food which is bloody obvious, but I liked Carl's Junior's fries.
Moral of the story ... you never know about any drivers, so drive defensively, and don't eat fast food! ;-)
This is an interesting study. Mileage adjusted numbers for California senior drivers show they are most likely age group to be involved in fatal accidents (over 80 especially). This is mostly because they are more fragile themselves. Teens are in more crashes because they drive more miles. It's not going to tell you anything about risks in a situation such as this, because short trip in-town driving like this is where an elderly person is most likely to be driving.
Mileage-adjusted rates are considered a better indicator of collision avoidance skills, and things get dramatically worse after 80. Seniors appear to be as a group much more likely to be at fault.
This study suggests seniors should be in a special class of more monitored drivers, not that they should be stopped at a certain age.
Statistics on car "opponents" in accidents by age group are harder to come by, in fact, if anyone can find good data, please post. Small children and the elderly are the most likely victims/fatalities in car-pedestrian crashes, and elderly drivers are most likely to have accidents between 9 am and 6pm.
The scary thing is that in the vast majority of fatal pedestrian collisions with cars, the pedestrian was in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk, so presumably not at fault. Small children are more at risk because of unpredictable behavior, as an age group, nevertheless, it seems the way to address reducing such fatalities lies with addressing the cars/risks/roadway factors.
Young and inexperienced drivers are way more dangerous than old drivers. The minimum age for a drivers license should be 18.
Based on the data/first link above from the state, you are right that young drivers are one of the most dangerous demographic, in absolute numbers, they have the most accidents -- the other, as a group, is seniors.
Since young drivers are more likely to do freeway driving and drive more miles total, there also is more chance to have an accident. This doesn't tell you about the relative risk in the situation of this story, because seniors are more likely to take shorter trips closer to home. That's why "mileage adjusted" risk is considered a better way of assessing collision avoidance skills. If you look at mileage adjusted risk - in a way, looking just where the seniors are most driving - seniors are just as dangerous as teens and the risk goes up dramatically after age 80.
I agree with the conclusion of the state study, instead of restricting all senior licences, there should just be better licensing monitoring to weed out those who shouldn't be driving.
Thank God the accident here wasn't worse, although it sounds bad enough. How terrible for their family! All the best for their recovery!
Bad drivers can be reported to the DMV for prompt retesting:
I agree that these two groups, teens and seniors, probably do have more accidents than the general population. Although their driving habits differ and the type of accidents differ, I think the cause is quite similar.
Teens tend to feel invulnerable. They think that they have their license and don't realize that the lack experience or could possibly make a mistake while driving. They tend to be a little more reckless, show off, and bend the rules.
On the other hand, seniors often have some of the same traits. They feel that their age and experience makes them invulnerable. They feel that the short 1/2 mile to the store that they have driven safely every day for the past X number of years means that they will be able to continue doing so. Like teens, they don't realize that sometimes their behavior is reckless, not because they are inexperienced but because they can explain away their diminishing driving abilities by saying that they don't drive at night any more, or on highways, or on unfamiliar streets. They explain their ability to drive safely enough on a short familiar route as more acceptable than on other driving.
The fact is that seniors do excuse their diminishing abilities shows that they are aware that their abilities are not what they used to be. True, highway driving, night driving and unfamiliar routes are more tricky and take more concentration than just the mechanics of moving the car. But the fact is that accidents can and do happen in the 1/2 mile from home familiar routes by seniors who should not be driving, period.
Instead of blanket statements about age we should require dynamic road tests.
I'm thinking of a video game where the person drives, must brake for animals, is presented with emergency situations, train crossings etc. The test could check coordination, reflexes, judgement, and rules of the road. It could even be extended to teach a little traffic etiquette.
The DMV could be lined with Xboxes or Playstations. I think this would even be cheaper than our current ways of testing.
The testing machines could gather statistics on the general driving population regarding reflex, coordination etc.
If everyone had to take such a test every 5 years and folks over 70 every 2 years then we could get rid of drivers that are badly coordinated or don't grasp the rules of the road.
I've known many people that are just bad drivers and would fail a well designed dynamic road test. And I've known very young and very old drivers that could pass such a test.
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