Elderly Driver Hits Elderly Pedestrian in Ulster Car Accident
In a recent car accident in the town of Ulster, a 100-year-old driver hit an elderly pedestrian. The accident occurred on the U.S. Route 9W near Central Hudson, where Kathryn Schneider of Saugerties was driving southbound. While doing so, she hit Bernard Smith, 84, as he attempted to cross the road. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, having incurred a head injury. While police are still investigating, Schneider did not receive a citation for the accident immediately afterward.
How Dangerous Are Elderly Drivers?
Elderly drivers are not quite as dangerous on the road as teen drivers, but they do have increasing crash rates with each passing decade. Those 80 and up have a collision rate second only to teenagers, but hold the highest fatal collision rate. Changes in the ability to discern and avoid hazards on the road increase steadily after age 70, especially at intersections, where elderly drivers often misjudge when it is safe to proceed, or fail to see other drivers. Since the population of elderly individuals is increasing as America’s population ages and people live longer, accidents involving the elderly may see an increase.
Age Restrictions on Drivers
Many states have restrictions on driver’s licenses for those over 69, or require the driver to meet higher standards in taking a test. For example, drivers may no longer renew by mail in Alaska after age 69. Illinois requires its drivers aged 75 and older to take a driving test at each renewal, and shortens the period between renewals as the driver ages. A number of states requires that older drivers take a vision test more frequently than they otherwise would. New York has no additional restrictions on drivers’ licenses for the elderly, but does operate a system whereby police officers, doctors, or other concerned individuals can report concerns over an elderly person’s ability to drive to the DMV, who will interview the individual and possibly subject them to another driving or vision test.
Maryland and the District of Columbia each require that drivers over 70 obtain approval from a doctor to continue renewing their drivers’ licenses. In fact, the issue of doctor approval—and possible negligence committed by doctors—has been an issue in cases involving crashes caused by elderly drivers. In one California case, the family of a man who died when his elderly partner drove into oncoming traffic sued the partner’s doctor. The family claimed that, since the doctor had long been treating the driver for dementia and had prescribed her medication for Alzheimer’s, he should have intervened with the DMV and requested that her license be suspended, as he had done with other patients. The case did go to trial, but the jury did not find the doctor liable for the man’s death. Since New York also provides a system for physicians to report concerns over a patient’s ability to drive, it is possible that a New York resident could sue under a similar theory of liability.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident with an elderly driver, contact experienced attorneys in the field of personal injury to explore your legal options. Located in Kingston, New York, Basch & Keegan have been handling car crash and other personal injury claims for over thirty years, and are available to discuss your claim free of charge. From Kingston, Ulster, Poughkeepsie, or anywhere in the Hudson Valley, call (845) 338-8884 to speak to one of our attorneys.