This past Saturday, on September 15, a car accident in Charlton, Massachusetts landed an elderly driver and her car inside a home on Sturbridge Road. The 82-year-old motorist, who has not been identified, was involved in a 2-car collision at about 5:40pm, according to local authorities. The second driver, identified only as a woman, 32, was injured and taken to Harrington Memorial Hospital. The older driver was transported to Umass Medical Center. The cause of the accident is presently under investigation.
I’ve written several blogs about various forms of car collisions. Cars landing in pools. Wrong-way drivers. Single-car accidents. The carnage of a collision when seatbelts aren’t used. I’m actually a little surprised that this is my first “Car crashes into building” blog. And I immediately became curious about how often something like this happens. Apparently, quite often. There was a rash of cars crashing into building late last year in western New York. Thirteen incidents in a matter of months. But nobody could ascertain why. There’s still no concrete data available to explain this kind of occurrence.
But there was also another personal aspect of this story that appealed to me because my father is officially an “elderly driver” now. His safety is a concern of mine. And I take comfort in knowing that, statistically speaking, as drivers become older, they become more conservative. Driving habits become adjusted through avoiding busy highways or abstaining from driving late at night. And yet, older drivers are still more likely to be involved in a multi-car collision than younger drivers. Research has also shown that not only do the chances of being in a car collision spike after the age of 65, but the risk of a collision becoming fatal rise at 75 as older drivers are more vulnerable to crash-related injuries and death.
And with information like this at hand, becoming an older driver or having a loved one who is an older driver can cause some anxiety. But I found a helpful online pamphlet that encourages conversation between loved ones and even self-examination regarding where one’s driving ability stands as age becomes more of a factor. For example, the question of vision is raised.
Symptoms of declining vision:
• You have problems reading highway or street signs or recognizing someone you know across the street.
• You have trouble seeing lane lines and other pavement markings, curbs, medians, other vehicles and pedestrians, especially at dawn, dusk, and at night.
What one can do about declining vision:
• Make sure you always wear your glasses and that they are a current prescription. If you lose or break your glasses, don’t rely on an old pair; replace them right away with your newest prescription. Avoid eyewear with side pieces that may block your vision.
• Do not wear sunglasses or tinted lenses at night. This reduces the amount of light that reaches your eyes and makes driving much more hazardous. Don’t darken or tint your car windows. Avoid driving at dawn, dusk and night. If you are extremely light-sensitive, check with your eye doctor to see if it can be corrected.
The entire list of questions and advice can be found here, at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s webpage. And Altman and Altman has decades of experience with car accidents, and understanding of what such incidents can take away from a person. So if you, or anyone you know, has any questions or concerns, there’s somebody you can speak with twenty-four hours a day.