Older drivers in California are governed by a law that prevents motorists from renewing their driver’s licenses by mail once they turn 70. Those applicants have to complete a mandatory vision and written test at a DMV office. A driving test is not compulsory, but it can be ordered by a DMV worker or suggested by police, family members or doctors. After a recent car accident in Livermore, the number of pedal errors by elderly drivers is raising concern.
A woman was recently killed when an 80-year-old driver smashed her vehicle into a gym in Livermore. According to studies, it is not uncommon for older drivers to accidentally step on the accelerator instead of the brake. It is suggested that technology may save lives, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reached an agreement with 10 vehicle manufacturers to ensure that automatic emergency braking systems will be installed in all new cars.
Cars fitted with this feature make use of radar, lasers or cameras that can alert drivers of imminent crashes and activate the braking system automatically. Such a feature may have prevented the Livermore accident as well as another crash that occurred in a different location only six hours later. In this accident, nobody was injured when an 81-year-old driver’s apparent pedal error caused her to crash into a post office building.
While advanced technology may prevent pedestrians or other vehicles and buildings from being struck by drivers who made pedal errors, it will only be a feature on new cars. Such a car accident by a driver of an older car remains a possibility. Injured victims — or the surviving family members of those who lost their lives — may pursue financial relief for medical and/or end-of-life expenses. However, before a monetary judgment can be entered in a California civil court, evidence of negligence on the part of the driver will have to be established.
Source: mercurynews.com, “Livermore gym crash: Pedal error dangerous phenomenon among elderly drivers“, Matthias Gafni, Sept. 23, 2015