A jury on Friday awarded $12.5 million to a Thousand Oaks family of a local bicyclist who was hit and killed by a woman whose eyesight was impaired by cataracts, according to an Associated Press news report. The family of the deceased man Glenn Garvin, 49, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the 82-year-old driver, the report said.
Norma Seigel was reportedly driving a new Lexus Sept. 16, 2006, when she struck Garvin from behind. Garvin was riding in the bicycle lane. According to the lawsuit Seigel had not only recently found out that she had cataracts in both eyes, but had also been involved in a rear-end crash six months before this fatal crash.
Garvin’s widow, Pamela, told reporters that her late husband was a city traffic safety commissioner who educated people about bicycle safety. Seigel reportedly acknowledged even before the trial that she was responsible for Garvin’s death.
Pamela Garvin also makes another significant point in her released statement to the media. She brings up the issue of George Weller, the 86-year-old man who plowed into the farmers market in Santa Monica killing 10 people and injuring more than 70. She raises the important issue of dangers posed by elderly drivers.
The Insurance Information Institute gives some interesting and eye-opening statistics about elderly drivers. According to their information, in 2005, people 65 years and older made up 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, 14 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities and 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities. Many states are starting to toughen the laws when it comes to elderly drivers renewing their licenses. In May 2007, the Governor of Texas signed a bill, which effective Sept. 1 prohibited drivers 79 and older from renewing their drivers licenses by mail or electronically.
Other new laws around the country require licenses issued to people 85 years or older to expire on the driver’s second birthday after the license is issued. If people are not going to do the responsible thing and give up their driver’s license, we should have laws that require them to do so – for their own safety and the safety of others.