A pedestrian remains hospitalized two days after getting struck by an out-of-control car on 10th Street in Charlottesville, Virginia (VA). The crash occurred on the afternoon of April 29, 2015, and the at-fault driver reportedly passed out behind the wheel shortly before colliding with the woman using the sidewalk between West Street and Grady Avenue.
Police investigators cited an unspecified medical emergency as the reason the driver lost consciousness. They also released his age of 70 years. As a Virginia personal injury lawyer who has helped many victims of pedestrian crashes, I know that both poor health and advanced age can make operating a car or truck dangerous for everyone else on the road.
I also know that claiming a medical emergency rarely excuses an at-fault driver from liability. All people have duties to keep their vehicles under control and to ensure that they are physically and mentally capable of doing so. When ill-health, failing eyesight, slowing reflexes or mental confusion could impair a person's driving ability, he or she owes it to the themselves and everyone else to hand over the keys and let someone else take the wheel.
Virginia recently changed its rules for issuing driver's licenses to senior citizens, a group the state's Department of Motor Vehicles calls "mature drivers." Requirements to pass in-office eye exams and in-person road tests now apply for any Virginian older than 80. The agency also suggests that families with concerns over an older relative's ability to continue driving safely ask their loved one to voluntary undergo those qualifying procedures.
Staying safe on and near the roads of Virginia requires trusting fellow motorists to remain alert and in control. Anything that makes having such faith difficult puts every person at risk.