News


Woman crashes car into Midtown Shopping Center

No one injured in Thursday morning incident in Palo Alto

A 90-year-old woman was shaken up after driving into two building posts of a Palo Alto shopping plaza and grazing the building Thursday morning, police said.

The incident happened at around 8 a.m. at the Midtown Shopping Center, which is located at 2600 Middlefield Road and includes a CVS and Baskin-Robbins.

The woman, a Palo Alto resident, pulled into a parking space and mistook the gas pedal for the brake, police Sgt. Wayne Benitez said. The car lurched forward, hitting two pillars holding up the eve of the building before making its way onto the pedestrian walkway and skidding along the building wall where a karate studio is housed. No one was inside the karate studio at the time of the incident, Benitez said.

No one was injured, including the driver. Her driver's license was suspended on the spot, Benitez said. She will have to take an "emergency re-evaluation" through the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will evaluate her driving competency, he added.

The area of the shopping center damaged by the accident was roped off so that the pillars can be fixed, but the shopping center remains open for business, Benitez said.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Skyblacker
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2016 at 3:11 pm

This is just like when that elderly man crashed into a cafe on University last year, though fortunately without casualties this time. Why don't these people have better options than driving? Self driving cars cannot happen too soon.


7 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2016 at 3:20 pm

This sounds like it was outside Palo Alto Café, a busy coffee spot. At this time of the morning, it is fortunate that nobody was hurt.


10 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2016 at 3:44 pm

So, what exact age is "elderly" these days?

At 55 the DMV uses the term "mature".

At 70 we can no longer renew by mail.


19 people like this
Posted by Kirsten
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 30, 2016 at 6:52 pm

The overhang of a building is called an "Eave" not an "Eve", Some believe Eve was the first woman, but everyone believes that an eave makes a wall last longer, by sheltering it from rain.


10 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2016 at 7:08 pm


1. It might not be totally fair, but it seems like it would be a good
idea to publish this person's name so that people who know her
would be able to report if she just went home and started driving
another car. You never know how some people react to a license
suspension.

2. This kind of thing is going to happen. It doesn't have to always be
elderly people, though there are certainly some cases where it is.
In a crowded place like Palo Alto with a complicated parking lots
and small sizes spaces it might just make more sense to mandate
centers to put in barriers to prevent cars from lurching into people
spaces or into buildings.

- As Skyblacker said - Self driving cars cannot happen too soon.
Then people can text themselves crazy because everywhere I
drive today, whenever I drive I always see people waiting for
lights that miss the turn of the light because they are not paying
attention and they slow down everyone else ... can you imagine
on a daily basis nationally how much time is burned up by people
not paying attention when they are driving.


22 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Isn't their outdoor table seating outside the cafe just to the right of this crash? Thank god no one was killed.

Palo Alto seems to be encouraging restaurants to open sidewalk seating, but with our aging population and numerous cars driving onto sidewalks in Palo Alto and nearby cities, I refuse to eat at these outdoor restaurants unless they have a concrete wall between the tables and the parking lot. Even a slow speed collision with a 2 ton car can be fatal to an innocent person enjoying a meal.


14 people like this
Posted by Self driving cars?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Given that alternatives exist, from Taxis to Uber to public transportation, I'm not sure how self driving cars would be a panacea for those who feel their right to drive trumps everyone else's safety.


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2016 at 8:44 pm

After today's self-driving Tesla fatality, I really do not expect these to be generally available in my lifetime. We really have to do a better job of making public transit and taxis etc a real alternative for people with questionable driving skills.


20 people like this
Posted by Former Garland resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 30, 2016 at 9:03 pm

Please do not use the term elderly. It is outdated and implies senility and incompetence. If the age is known, then publish that. The writer is guilty of promoting agism.


8 people like this
Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2016 at 10:27 pm

I know plenty of young and middle-aged drivers who are scary as hell. What is it, anyway, with this idea do mistaking the gas pedal for the brake?!?


9 people like this
Posted by Militant Geezer
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2016 at 7:44 am

Spot on FG resident! To describe the errant driver as "elderly" throughout the story, when there is no indication that the driver's age had any bearing on the accident, is indeed ageism.

To insert the offending word into the story's headline is just inexusable.
PA Online? We're expecting to hear back from you on this.


13 people like this
Posted by Another Elder
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:15 am

I disagree that the term elderly is demeaning or "ageist". Age is relevant to the story. Age routinely effects reaction time, ability to react to novel stimuli, depth perception, and ability to perceive items in one'e peripheral vision. To think that age, as a general thing, won't effect driving ability is just denial. I am sure there are some folks somehow escape the effects of age on their vision systems and nerve systems, but statistically, drivers over 85 are more dangerous, on a PER MILE BASIS, than a 15 year old. Most drivers over 85 realize this, on some level, and reduce the miles they drive to reduce the risk. As a result, they are only as dangerous as a 65-year-old on a PER PERSON basis.

Driving is an over-learned activity. "Over-learned" means that we have done it for so long that the basic activities of driving - turning, stopping, driving straight - can be done almost perfectly with almost no thought. However, driving also requires that the driver react to novel phenomena - for example, a child darting from behind a parked car. Or a person pressing the wrong pedal. This ability is very hard to test in an institutional setting and so most people with a degradation of this ability are able to pass their driver's license exam even if they no longer are able to react to novel situations quickly enough.

My guess is that we all touch the wrong pedal from time to time. Most of us just figure it out way faster than this driver did.

And yes, I am over 65 and I realize that all this applies to me. I don't like it, but I realize that it does.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

I noticed that the article was rewritten to delete "elderly" and state that the woman was 90 years old. Her driver's license was suspended after the collision, so the cops are probably suspicious of her driving skills.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:49 pm

I was taught to drive in a stick shift and I feel quite sure I have never mixed up the gas pedal and brake.

90 years old, wow. I feel for people of this age who still feel independent and want to get out and about on their own. There is very little alternative for them but to continue driving. Their families may not be aware of their abilities and are reluctant to tell them it is time to give up the keys because it may be up to them to drive them around instead.

We must make it easier for elderly people to be independent. In the UK those over a certain age get free bus passes. We have free shuttles, but does it really help those seniors it is aimed at? Uber may not be easy for elderly people to use, since many of them don't really know how to use a smart phone and don't really want to learn how to.

We are told our city is aging, but the infrastructure is being set up to suit younger, more able bodied people who walk and ride bikes. At 90 years of age, a person is possibly not able to walk far or ride a bike. Unfortunately they seem to be still driving when perhaps they should not be.


14 people like this
Posted by Another Elder
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:36 pm

There are a number of transportation programs and options for seniors (elders, geezers, old folks, golden-agers - take your pick) in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Most of them are not free, but most of them are not very expensive. They are summarized in the following pamphlet:
Web Link
and on the following website:
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Self Parking cars are much different from self-driving cars.
Must more driver attention can be paid, and few variables to contend with.

Self-driving cars are hype. There is really no point in the self-driving cars
of today or the near-future because it is actually more dangerous to semi-
pay attention to your car's driving than it is just to drive it yourself.

I think they should re-brand the self-driving car to driver-assist, like
collision avoidance programming and evolve from there.

HOWEVER, looking at it statistically self-driving cars are probably
safer than human driven cars because that includes the failures of all
the worst human drivers and oddest circumstances. Statistics can be
deceiving.

Riding in a self-driving car you can never quite be sure what odd
circumstance will configure and cause you a problem, and that will
take a long time to figure out.

I would imagine that at some point the thing that will push self-driving
cars is some kind of communication between vehicles, which may even
allow things such as long chains of slip-streaming cars breaking wind
resistance, etc.

HYPE! One great new book has self-driving vehicles doing away with
20% of the country's jobs in 10-20 years. Maybe not.


7 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

If 90 isn't considered elderly, then I don't know what is.


Like this comment
Posted by Militant Geezer
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2016 at 9:37 am

Note to PA Online staff, thanks for removing the prejeducial remark from the teaser, headline and the story itself. The facts of the case remain.


2 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Militant Geezer - turns out the only people reading newspapers anymore are elderly so better not call out the elderly when the elderly do something negative.


7 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Another Elder, a resident of College Terrace, on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:36 pm made a helpful suggestion about alternative forms of transportation.

There is a new service, GoGoGrandparent, where adult riders or their family members can order Uber rides without using a smartphone. Family members can also have the option of knowing when the rider is picked up and dropped off.

You can find it by typing GoGoGrandparent into a search engine.


5 people like this
Posted by Physically impaired from age
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

Most 90 year olds have had considerable impairment in their physical driving skills such as reaction time, balance, vision, and in many cases cognitive abilities as well. Family members all joke about not getting in the car when grandpa's at the wheel, but don't seriously consider the danger many of these drivers are to the public. MADD has done a good job of making us aware of the dangers of impaired drivers from alcohol. We need a similar focus on drivers impaired from other causes in order to keep the public safe


4 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2016 at 10:52 am

Along with some very helpful references, "Another Elder" mentioned earlier that "Age is relevant to the story. Age routinely effects reaction time, ability to react to novel stimuli, depth perception, and ability to perceive items in one'e peripheral vision... statistically, drivers over 85 are more dangerous, on a PER MILE BASIS, than a 15 year old. Most drivers over 85 realize this, on some level, and reduce the miles they drive..."

Recognizing these objective safety realities, California legislation several years ago aimed to change the licensing laws so that drivers over 80 would have to pass more frequent testing. The plan reflected the best available medical and statistical information.

AARP organized its members and defeated the measure. Personal expediency triumphed over public safety and since then, there have been several prominent incidents of over-80 drivers "pressing the wrong pedal and then panicking," leading (unlike this local instance) to injuries and deaths.


Like this comment
Posted by DumbFoot
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2016 at 11:16 am

I have to admit I have had about 3-4 situations in my life where I was driving and something was weird and it turned out I was pressing on both the gas and brake at the same time. I don't think this is uncommon. I've never run into anything or gone out of control or done it for more than a split second, but it was over about 3 different cars. It could be that I just had a small purchase on the gas pedal so it was never a problem. It may be people that have never had this happen that do not know what is going on and react wrongly to it. I was not really sure how it happened, but when something weird happens and your car is not behaving normally, you have to do a reality reset. I am pretty sure that is what happened and not something that was the car's fault as many people claim.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 71 comments | 3,740 views

Global Warming Diet
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,367 views

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,266 views

Preparing for kindergarten
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 716 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 285 views

 

Race is tomorrow!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More