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San Diego County Car Crash Involves Elderly Driver

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Several people were injured in a San Diego car accident in the 10700 block of Tierrasanta Boulevard near La Cuenta Drive the morning of April 15, 2009 after an elderly woman crashed her vehicle through a dentist’s office into an area where patients were waiting. According to a news report in 10news, the 86-year-old woman who was driving a sedan, lost control of the vehicle while attempting to park in a disabled spot. San Diego Fire Department officials said the woman drove her Toyota Camry over a curb, crashed through a wooden beam and went through the front of the office and ended up about eight feet inside the lobby.

Firefighters freed a 59-year-old man trapped between the car and a wall. His injuries were serious, but not life threatening. A woman, who was employed in the dentist’s office, was also treated for ankle injuries. Officials are investigating the accident. However, the motorist apparently told firefighters that she was “unable to find the brake.”

I hope the man who was trapped between the vehicle and the wall is doing better now. I wish him and the other injured victims the very best for a quick and complete recovery. This incident could have been a lot worse and could have resulted in a tragedy. I’m glad and relieved that it did not.

If this newspaper report is accurate, it seems to me that this car accident was clearly the woman’s fault. It appears that she may have been confused at the time and mistook the accelerator for the brake. I hope the Department of Motor Vehicles is looking into her ability to continue driving safely.

There has been a spate of recent Southern California car crashes into buildings involving elderly drivers. This San Diego car collision reminds us again about the issue of elderly drivers. California now has almost 3 million drivers who are 65 years or older, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65. In 2005, about 11 percent of fatal traffic accidents in the United States involved drivers 65 or older.

California laws do not require elderly drivers to pass road tests. These tests can be critical in identifying drivers whose physical ability or mental awareness is not what it used to be. Such requirements are clearly over due and will go a long way in preventing these types of accidents and potential tragedies in the future.

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