Senior Driver Causes Redondo Beach Auto Accident Injuring Five
Five people suffered injuries at the Ham Supreme restaurant in Redondo Beach in an auto accident after an 88-year-old old driver mistook his accelerator for the brake and drove his Jaguar halfway into the restaurant. The elderly motorist, whose name was not released, apparently struck several sidewalk diners the afternoon of March 29, 2009, the Daily Breeze reports. The restaurant is located near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Carnelian Street.
Redondo Beach police officials say the potential for a serious accident was extremely high as there were a lot of people who were dining and gathered in the area. After striking some of the diners on the sidewalk, the Jaguar struck several diners inside the restaurant, pushing them through a stucco wall into a neighboring business and trapping them. A police officer had to smash the front window of the business to release the injured victims. The elderly driver was not hurt in the crash. Police have said they will file a report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles for his license to be reviewed.
It is indeed a miracle that no one was seriously injured or killed in this Redondo Beach auto accident. I wish those who suffered injuries in this crash the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
The big issue here is what caused the elderly driver to lose control of his vehicle. Officials have apparently said in no uncertain terms that the accident was the fault of the senior driver. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California now has almost 3 million drivers who are 65 years or older. Over the next few decades, that number will increase. It is already increasing with every passing day.
According to 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. This study’s results were based on data gathered between 1999 and 2004. From 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers in the nation.
For drivers 85 years and older, the death rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that are teens. These numbers are particularly disturbing at a time when the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by the year 2030, up 73 percent from today. Road safety analysts also predict that when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25 percent of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11 percent of fatal auto accidents in the United States involved drivers 65 or older.
The only measure, which has been scientifically proven to lower the rate of fatal crashes involving elderly drivers, is to force them to appear at motor vehicle departments in person to renew their driver’s licenses, according to a 1995 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But the fact is that most states (except for Illinois and New Hampshire) do not require elderly drivers to pass road tests, which can be critical in identifying drivers whose physical ability or mental awareness has diminished.
California must get on the ball here and not only require elderly drivers to appear in person to renew their driver’s license, but also make it mandatory for them to pass road tests. It’s the only way we can prevent unnecessary tragedies from auto collisions that involve elderly drivers. We’re extremely lucky that such a tragedy did not occur in Redondo Beach last weekend.