A 94-year-old wrong-way driver was stopped by a brave Pierce County deputy Tuesday, preventing what could’ve been a devastating car accident near Tacoma on Route 16.
KOMO News has the detailed report of the event. A Poulsbo man and his 88-year-old wife were traveling in a Toyota Camry when they turned down a highway off-ramp and began going the wrong way. The deputy spotted the wrong-way driver, then parked his cruiser in the path of the car.
The maneuver worked. The Camry stopped just feet from the cruiser. The 94-year-old man appeared confused, reports say, and didn’t remember where he was or how he got there. The man’s keys were seized, and he was cited for reckless driving.
The Dangers Of Elderly Drivers
The elderly is one of the age groups that pose a great danger to other drivers on the road, the other being teen drivers. Unfortunately, accidents involving the elderly are some of the most common on our roadways.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 5,560 older adults – drivers at least 65 years old – were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2012. An additional 214,000 were injured.
When looking at per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase around ages 70 to 74. Rates are highest among drivers age 85 and older.
This problem won’t go away anytime soon, at least without serious public safety campaigns. CDC data shows there were more than 40 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States in 2015. There were 36 million in 2012. From 1999 to 2015, the U.S. saw a 50 percent increase in older drivers.
How Aging Affects The Ability To Drive
One of the most drastic physical changes that comes with age is vision deterioration. Older drivers may have difficulty seeing stop lights, pedestrians, lines on the road, as well as other vehicles in their peripheral.
Hearing also tends to get worse with age. Drivers unable to hear horns or sirens put themselves and other drivers at risk. Studies have shown that people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss.
Older drivers also have worse motor skills than their younger counterparts. That means slower reflexes, decreased reaction times and an inability to properly turn the head when making lane changes. Slower cognitive function is extremely dangerous when operating a vehicle. An older person typically cannot react to stimuli as quickly as they used to.
Think you or a loved one may be at risk for a car accident because of age? Look for these warning signs:
- Nervousness while driving
- Confusing the brake and gas pedal
- Getting lost
- Leaving the turn signal on
- More minor bumps and scratches on the car
- Exhaustion after driving
Legal Help After A Car Accident
Washington State personal injury law provides a legal remedy for victims injured in traffic collisions involving elderly drivers. Negligent driving breaches a legal duty to others, resulting in financial responsibility for damages. Regardless of age, at-fault parties are liable for any injuries caused by their negligence, and in some cases may face criminal charges. Drivers of every age are capable driving negligently.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of an elderly driver, contact the Davis Law Group, P.S., to learn more about your legal rights. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the contact form on this page for a free case evaluation.