A grocery store in Hickory, NC was forced to close its doors for a day after a 90-year-old woman drove her vehicle right into the storefront. The accident occurred on February 10, 2021, at approximately 1 p.m. According to Hickory Police, the woman got her foot stuck on the gas pedal of her Chrysler Pacifica and drove into the store. Substantial structural damage to the building was reported. Thankfully, there were no victims injured in the incident. The officer on the scene said no charges would be filed against the elderly driver and deemed the incident an “unfortunate accident.”

Elderly Drivers

While there is potential for this type of incident to happen to any driver, the majority of them occur to elderly drivers.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 45 million drivers on U.S. roads who are 65 years of age or older. This is an increase of more than 60 percent in the past 20 years.

And while being able to drive helps senior citizens stay mobile and independent, there are also serious issues that often need to be addressed since studies show that the risk of being injured or killed in a crash increases as a person ages. Age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, might affect some older adults’ driving abilities. The following data highlights those risks:

  • Approximately 7,500 elderly victims are killed in car accidents each year.
  • Each day, there are 20 senior drivers killed in car accidents.
  • More than 250,000 senior drivers are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries they have suffered in crashes.
  • Each day, there are 700 senior drivers injured in car accidents.
  • Drivers who are 75 years of age or older face the highest risk of being involved in a fatal crash.
  • Senior male drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes than senior female drivers.

Signs It May Be Time for a Senior Citizen to Give Up Driving

Turning over the keys to the vehicle is a difficult decision for elderly drivers and their families. For many of them, the ability to drive themselves to social events, stores, and other places provides a senior citizen with the feeling of independence, and to give that up willingly is very difficult. However, an elderly driver who is having difficulties puts themselves in danger, as well as anyone they are sharing the roads with. Some of the factors that could indicate it is time for your elderly loved one to stop driving are:

  • Other people are complaining about incidents occurring.
  • The senior driver becomes confused while driving. They may have a hard time judging the distance between their vehicle and other vehicles and objects around them. Or they have a hard time with entrance and exit ramps on highways or judging the distance between their vehicle and others around them.
  • The senior driver becomes lost a lot, even in places that should be familiar to them.
  • The senior driver has a hard time concentrating while they are driving.
  • The senior driver has a sudden increase in traffic violations.
  • The senior driver is agitated or angry after they have been driving.
  • There are new scratches and/or dents on the vehicle.

Have You Been Injured?

Unfortunately, it is not just elderly drivers who may pose a risk on the roads. Drivers of all ages can behave in a negligent or reckless manner, resulting in crashes and injuries to others. If you have been injured in a crash, contact a North Carolina car accident attorney to see what type of financial damages you may be entitled to. The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Appleton have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Carolinas personal injury attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at (833) 997-1774 or a free case evaluation.