The incident took place Sunday, November 15th outside a Whole Foods on Roswell Road. Sandy Springs police responded to reports of an accident involving a young girl.
Outside the grocery store, they discovered that the girl, whose name has not been released, had been pinned under a car as she and her mother exited the building. The officers found that the driver, a seventy year old man, had briefly lost control of his car. The vehicle backed into a cement planter, then over the girl.
The girl was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where she received treatment for severe abrasions. Luckily, she suffered no broken bones or head injuries. Several hours later, she was released from the hospital to recover in her family’s home.
It seems that the planter is to thank that the girl was not injured worse. Lt. Steve Rose, spokesman for the Sandy Springs Police Department, explained that the cement planter absorbed most of the car’s impact before it reached the child, protecting her from further injury.
No charges have been filed in this incident.
This incident, and those like it, will without a doubt add one more piece of anecdotal evidence to the fierce debate over the safety of elderly drivers. While it is impossible to say whether a younger driver might have had the wherewithal to either regain control of his vehicle more quickly, or even not lose control at the same time, the age of the driver still stands out.
I have mentioned before the challenges of being a society looking ahead to an increasing number of elderly drivers, and the measures some sources are taking to ensure their continued ability.
In the coming decades, one quarter of the American population will be considered elderly. By 2030, a predicted 69 million will be over the age of sixty-five. This change in demographics is driven by both the longer life expectancies of modern Americans, and the inevitable aging of the baby boom generation.
Many of these older drivers will remain safe, responsible motorists, and with the help of a realistic view of aging, we can help all drivers retain the freedom and mobility of having a car, and at the same time protect those with whom they share the roads – and parking lots.
When assessing your own capabilities, it is important to be thoughtful and realistic, and consider not only your driving ability and experience, but also your physical condition. Older drivers can self-evaluate themselves, to some extent, and take actions to protect themselves and others. You should consider your muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion – whether or not you are physically able to see and act in the ways demanding by driving. You should be aware of your coordination and reaction time, and your decision making abilities.
In reality, it is important for all drivers to be honestly aware of their physical abilities, and as we age, this knowledge only becomes more important.