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When Should an Elderly Driver Give Up the Keys?

An elderly man was killed in a single-car accident in Pittsylvania County, Va. on Monday afternoon. According to Virginia State Police, Willard Harrison Stoots, 81, of Dry Fork, was driving a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup truck north on Route 865 when the truck ran off the right side of the road, then crossed over to the left side and slammed into a tree. The truck then burst into flames.

The driver died at the scene. Police say he was not wearing a seat belt. The impact of the crash was so hard that the frame of the truck between the cab and the bed was bent and one of the rear axles was partially ripped off the frame. The fire was caused by the gas tank bursting, and witnesses report that flames shot up as high as 30 feet.

There were visible skid marks left on the road, but police do not yet know if speed was a factor in the crash and will continue to investigate the fatal crash to determine what caused the driver to apparently lose control of the truck. Other possible causes of the crash include a sudden medical emergency with the driver or he may have become confused. Although this must be a terrible loss for the man's family, thankfully there were no other vehicles around the truck at the time of the crash or this accident could have been even more tragic.

Our Virginia wrongful death firm has reported on numerous deadly accidents were an elderly driver was found responsible for a car accident which killed or seriously injured other people on the road. And as the baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of elderly drivers on the roads will continue to increase, which raises the critical question of when should an elderly driver stop driving?

Not only does aging affect our mind and bodies, but medical conditions, as well as prescribed medications, can cause issues in driving. There are signs that should alert family members of an elderly driver that it may be time to have the talk about giving up their vehicle. These signs include:

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

Although giving up the car keys may feel as if the elderly driver is giving up their freedom, their safety and the safety of other commuters needs to be the priority. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by an elderly driver, contact an experienced Virginia personal injury firm to find out what legal recourse you may have for the pain and losses you have suffered.

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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