Two elderly women, one of whom was 100 years old, died from injuries after a 90-year-old driver crashed into the San Jose nursing home where they resided, according to sfgate.com. Suzanne Infante, 100 and Esther Bocanegra, 88, were sitting in the common room of Amberwood Gardens at about 9:45 a.m. Saturday when a car smashed through the wall. At the time of the crash, around a dozen people were in the room. Fortunately,not all of them were injured; only four residents and one employee were injured and treated at local hospitals. Initially the two women’s injuries were, for a non-elderly healthy person, not life-threatening, but they were made more serious by their ages. Bocanegra succumbed to her injures on Saturday, and Infante died on Sunday.
Whether or not the age of the driver is the reason this accident occurred, the truth of the matter is that story serves as a reminder thatseniors need to be honest with themselves regarding their abilities and make wise choices about when and where to drive. The number of senior drivers is expected to soar over the next 15 to 20 years, but many adults are reluctant to talk with their aging parents about their driving abilities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 30 million senior drivers 65 or older on the road today will soon need to evaluate the physical limitations that may cause them to reduce their driving or seek alternative transportation altogether. Elder Care professionals recommend the following checklist as a guide for determining if an elderly person in your life should alter their driving habits or stop driving altogether. Does the elderly person in your life:
• Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
• Ask passengers to help check if it is clear to pass or turn?
• Respond slowly to or notice pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers?
• Ignore, disobey or misinterpret street signs and traffic lights?
• Fail to yield to other cars or pedestrians who have the right-of-way?
• Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
• Become easily frustrated and angry?
• Appear drowsy, confused or frightened?
• Have one or more near accidents or near misses?
• Drift across lane markings or bump into curbs?
• Forget to turn on headlights after dusk?
• Have difficulty with glare from oncoming headlights, streetlights, or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
• Have difficulty turning their head, neck, shoulders or body while driving or parking?
• Ignore signs of mechanical problems, including underinflated tires?
• Have too little strength to turn the wheel quickly in an emergency, such as tire failure or a child darting into traffic.
• Get lost repeatedly, even in familiar areas?
For most seniors, not being able to drive means they are less independent. For this reason, communities need to learn to work with elders by helping them find the appropriate counseling when they give up driving, and promote senior driver safety through better educations, self-evaluation skills, refresher driving courses, and more options for public transportation. Several organizations have developed special training courses for older drivers. The American Automobile Association, AARP and the National Safety Council offer refresher courses for seniors several states require re-examination if a driver is determined to be unsafe or mentally or physically unfit.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a car accident, regardless of the age of the person behind the wheel of the car that hit you, contact our firm for a free consultation. We have over 10 years experience helping car accident victims and their families receive the compensation they deserve.