A hotly debated topic just got hotter as a 100 year-old driver struck
11 people, including nine children as he was backing his car out of a supermarket parking lot. The driver, identified as Preston Carter was driving a powder blue Cadillac out of the parking lot located just across the street of a Los Angeles elementary school minutes after classes had ended at around 2:30 p.m. local time. The school is located about five miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Carter will turn 101 years old next week on September 5.
The terrifying ordeal occurred as Carter mistakenly backed into the sidewalk instead of into the street. The children were buying food and snacks from a sidewalk vendor when they were hit, and backpacks, shoes, and candy could be seen scattered across the floor. Four of the children were in critical condition when firefighters arrived, but were stabilized and upgraded to serious condition at the hospital. Rose Saca, the spokesperson for Los Angeles County USC Hospital stated that one of the children remains in critical condition and another will remain in the hospital overnight for observation.
While Carter has been cooperative with police officers, he blamed the accident on a mechanical failure. “My brakes failed. It was out of control,” he told KCAL Channel 9 reporter. Drugs and alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the accident. Asked about how he felt about the accident, Carter replied “You know I’m sorry about that. I wouldn’t do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them..
This is only the most recent serious car accident involving an elderly
driver. In 2003, 86-year-old George Weller was convicted of 10 counts of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after he drove his vehicle into a farmers market in Santa Monica, California, killing 10 people and injuring 63 more. The National Transportation Safety Board identified the cause of the accident as “unintended acceleration.”
With baby boomers quickly approaching elderly status, and with the number of older drivers expected to double to 57 million people by 2030, this most recent accident re-opens the debate of should the elderly be allowed to drive. A reported 71,111 drivers over the age of 90-years-old are already licensed to drive in the state of California.
California is already one of 28 states that has special requirements for elderly drivers. Drivers over the age of 79 must take a written exam and eye test every five years with the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, creating more restriction for elderly drivers is more difficult than it sounds. Statistically, drivers over the age of 80-years-old have proportionately lower crash rates than drivers in their early twenties. And certainly the worst drivers on the road are those in their teenage years. If nothing else, this new elderly car accident only re-opens the debate of whether the elderly should be permitted to drive.