Separate crashes less than 12 hours apart sent two Virginia law enforcement officers to hospitals with serious injuries. An Oldsmobile struck a Caroline County sheriff's deputy who was directing traffic in a school zone at around 7 am on April 20, 2015. Earlier, on the night of the 19th, a car driven by an 80-year-old man cut off a state trooper's cruiser in Covington, VA. Charges are pending against both at-fault drivers.
The collision that injured the deputy occurred at the intersection VA 207 and Devils Three Jump Road, just across from Caroline High School in the town of Millford. Investigators could not immediately determine why the 86-year-old driver was unable to avoid striking the deputy. Visibility should not have been a problem because the deputy, according to the Free-Lance Star, was "wearing a reflective vest equipped with LED lights and using a traffic baton." While the victim is expected to recover, he may need months to recover from the damage to his legs, as well as from a broken wrist and cuts and scrapes to his head.
The state trooper was on U.S. 220 when he found himself unable to avoid colliding with the vehicle that pulled out in front of him unexpectedly. The investigation into that crash also continues, but an initial charge of failing to yield right of way has been filed against the elderly driver.
Both wrecks may highlight the risks seniors drivers take when continuing to drive after their eyesight diminishes and their reflexes slow. There is no exact age at which it becomes unsafe to keep getting behind the wheel, but individuals older than 70 and their families must make smart choices to reduce the dangers for crashes that damage property, injure others and, sometimes tragically, kill.
The other issue raised by the crashes is that all drivers of any age must give law enforcement officers the time and space they need to do their jobs safely. Cars and trucks must yield to police cruisers, and no one should ever steer too closely to an officer directing vehicles through an intersection. The people who protect the public also rely on citizens to protect their health and lives.