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Elderly man drives into casino killing two.

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James E. Ballidis
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A 70-year old man’s speeding car crashed through the entrance of a popular Laughlin casino on the California/Nevada border last week. Two people were found dead amongst the crumbled slot machines and 8 injured after this horrific crash. Authorities hope that the casino’s surveillance videos will help in their investigation.

Witnesses’ outside said that they saw an elderly man speed through a red light and then across the casino’s parking area, then straight through the casino. The unidentified man from Washington State confirmed that he had fainted while driving on vacation and police believed he suffered a “medical episode”. However, if this is true, was it safe for this man to be driving?

In the United States there are approximately 31 million licensed drivers that are 65 years old and older, that’s a 19% increase from 1997. Automobiles allow older adults to maintain their mobility; but as age increases, so does the older adults’ risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. More than 500 older adults are injured every day as occupants. In fact, once a person reaches 80 years old and is still driving, the injury accident rate is similar to teen drivers—not a good comparison! Although they have fewer crashes, the ones that they are in are more serious

In addition to getting older, medications can also cause problems with the elderly driving so how do you know the warning signs and how would you approach this delicate subject with an aging relative?
AARP, the American Association of Retired people has combined the 10 major warning signs that could indicate that a parent or friend is unsafe to drive:
·    Almost getting into accidents, with frequent “close calls”
·    Finding dents or scrapes on the car
·    Getting lost
·    Difficulty seeing traffic signals and road signs
·    Delayed response times during unexpected situations on the road
·    Experiencing road rage if others honk at them
·    Misjudging gaps in traffic
·    Easily distracted or can’t concentrate while driving
·    Difficulty turning around to check traffic in other lanes
·    Receiving multiple tickets or warnings from police officers

The American Medical Association has issued ethical opinions regarding the physician’s responsibility to older drivers, but as you might imagine, this is a sensitive matter and doctor’s can only give their opinion, not prohibit their patient from driving. It is ultimately up to the person to turn in their license.
According to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 78% of persons over the age of 55 years take at least one medication and 95% of those individuals have one or more medical conditions. In addition, only 1 in 4 of these people knew that there were potential dangerous side effects when they took their medicines and drove a car.

Senior drivers will more than double by 2030 and the doctors, families and friends must all work together to educate older drivers of the warning signs of dangerous driving as well as the ultimate decision to turn in the keys.

James Ballidis is the managing partner of Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie a firm dedicated to the representation of car accident victims. Call 1 888 752-7474 for help.

Category: Car Accidents

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