People are living longer which means they’re driving longer, too. Older motorist drove 29 percent more miles annually during the six-year period between 1995 and 2001. And there were over 20 million licensed drivers older than 70 in the U.S. in 2007 according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Some senior citizen advocates think elderly drivers need to be retested more frequently to maintain their driver license. Others, especially the aging drivers, believe testing threatens their freedom and independence.
Near Mocksville, NC, an elderly woman was killed when she crashed her vehicle head on into another car on Interstate 40. The 76-year-old woman—Barbara Topa—was travelling in the wrong direction down the interstate when the collision occurred. Though it is unclear whether her age contributed to her wrong-way driving, it might not be a far-fetched conclusion.
Whatever the cause of the fatal wreck, two other people were also injured as a result. Demetrice Ammons, 39, of Kernersville was transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center where she received treatment for serious injuries but is currently listed in stable condition. She was the driver whose car was hit head on by Barbara Topa’s vehicle.
Melissa James, 42, of Winston-Salem was reportedly unable to avoid the original wreckage and collided with one of the cars. She was taken to the hospital with what are being described as “minor injuries.”
Perhaps we should consider precautions to keep elderly drivers safe in North Carolina. Eye tests and reaction tests could be a requirement for license renewal over a certain age. A written and road test might also be appropriate measures if these tests could save lives.
One important way all drivers—especially those with failing eyesight and reaction time—can ensure safety on our streets and highways is to avoid following too close. I follow Lawrence Egerton’s Brick Wall Rule:
You should be far enough behind the car in front of you so that if that if that car suddenly turned into a brick wall, you could stop before you hit it.