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Car accident reignites debate on elderly driving restrictions

Last month, a 100-year-old man made news when he crashed into a group of 11 pedestrians, including nine children, who were standing on a sidewalk. Although all of the people who were injured are expected to survive, the car accident has raised questions about the risks and requirements of driving after the age of retirement.

This most recent car accident occurred in the middle of the afternoon when the elderly driver backed his sedan into the group of people. Four of the children hit by the man's vehicle were later said to be in serious condition at a nearby hospital, but none of their injuries were life-threatening. The driver has not been arrested, but police continue to investigate the cause of and circumstances surrounding the crash.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, older people account for about 17 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, despite the fact that they only make up 9 percent of the population. And with the number of drivers over the age of 70 expected to triple in the next 20 years as the baby boomer generation ages, these statistics will likely only get worse.

So what should be done to prevent accidents involving elderly drivers? Certainly, simply turning 70 does not automatically mean that someone can no longer be trusted to drive. Prior to last month's accident, the man involved in the crash discussed above drove for 30 years with no major problems. Many states have heightened testing requirements for elderly drivers, but traffic safety advocates argue that those do not go far enough to get dangerous drivers off the road.

It remains to be seen whether this crash will spark change in driving laws and requirements. We will continue to update our personal injury blog with any new developments.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Driver hits 11: Are elderly drivers making roads unsafe?" Aug. 30, 2012

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