LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Senior drivers are in the spotlight Thursday after a nearly 101-year-old man backed his car into several children and adults near a South Los Angeles elementary school on Wednesday.
Four children were seriously injured in the accident.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the issue of senior drivers needs to be addressed.
“As you age and as your parents age, you have to come to some conclusions about when to stop driving. I don’t want to speculate about this incident, but I think it’s an important lesson,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, a 74-year-old man swerved into traffic in Hollywood and hit a van carrying a mother and her 2-year-old girls. All three were killed.
The most publicized accident involving a senior happened nearly a decade ago, when George Weller, 86, plowed his car through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, which killed 10 people.
Jeffrey Spring from the Automobile Club of Southern California said you have to put the incidents in context.
“These types of incidents are rare,” he said. “Drivers in their late 60s and early 70s have the same crash rate as drivers in their 30s.”
Triple-A found drivers in their late 80s have a lower crash rate per mile than drivers in their early 20s.
“With older drivers, if it’s a fatal crash, it’s usually them dying in the crash because they’re older and more fragile,” said Spring.
California law requires all drivers over 70 years old to renew their license in person at the DMV every five years. They must take a vision test and they may also be asked to take a driving test.
Queen Sigler, 75, is still driving daily.
“(I’ll drive) as long as I feel comfortable driving and I’m seeing well and hearing well,” she said.
Sigler, however, has taken the car keys away from her elderly husband.
“I know he doesn’t hear well. He doesn’t see well. He wouldn’t hear a siren or anything, so that’s why I drive him,” she said.
Senior driver Gene Cavanaugh said won’t say how old she is, but she has no plans to give up driving.
“I hope I never have to (stop driving). I hope they sprinkle me out into the ocean before that,” she said.