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Elderly Driver Hits Motorcycle, 12-year-old Boy Killed

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A 12-year-old boy, who was riding in a motorcycle driven by his father, died after their motorcycle was hit by a 90-year-old driver making a left turn. According to an article in the Napa Valley Register, Eduardo Palafox was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by his dad, 32-year-old Jose Cruz Palafox-Iona.

The driver of a Subaru, driven by 90-year-old Marilyn Heinricher, collided with the motorcycle when the woman made a left turn, the article said. Paramedics performed CPR on the boy at the scene, but he reportedly died at the hospital. Both Heinricher and the boy’s father reportedly suffered minor injuries. Both father and son were said to be wearing helmets. Also, an accident reconstruction team is investigating whether Heinricher failed to yield right of way while making the left turn.

This is another tragic case involving an elderly driver possibly making an error on the road that turned out to be fatal. What a tragic loss for the young boy’s family. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Palafox family.

This incident, like many others, also brings back the issue of elderly drivers. In the next 20 years, the number of elderly drivers (people 70 and over) is expected to triple in the United States. Statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections. Interestingly, statistics by the Department of Motor Vehicles show that elderly drivers are most likely to get into an auto accident while making a left turn, as it happened in this Napa case.

Research shows that around the age of 65, drivers face an increased risk of being involved in an auto accident and after the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply because older drivers are more vulnerable to crash-related injury and death. Three behavioral factors in particular are said to contribute to these statistics:

1. Poor judgment in making left-hand turns
2. Drifting within the traffic lane and
3. Decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.

This accident and others we see everyday involving senior drivers, emphasizes the need for more stringent regulations, especially relating to retesting. Senior drivers must be made to renew their licenses more frequently with driving and vision tests so their ability to follow safety procedures and react to situations can be properly gauged. It’s understandable that the ability to drive affects seniors’ ability to be independent. But it’s certainly not worth the life of another human being. The errors these drivers make can sometimes be too costly and irreparable.

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  • Carlo

    Thanks for the post. I hope to read some more.

  • Belinda

    Just last night my 3 children, ages 12, 9 and 2, and myself were victims of a car accident by the hands of a 80 year old man who on a left turn almost hit the car next to him and after making the turn swerved back into my lane and smashed my passenger side doors. I drive an suv and he did enough damage so that I can not open the door on that side. He knows it was his fault but refused to admit any guilt. No one who witnessed the accident stopped as it was after 10pm in a less than desirable part of town near the airport. We had just got in from a long flight. All of this to say that since it is his word against mine and everyone is up in arms about limiting seniors driving privileges because of “age-discrimination” I am very upset that when peoples lives are in danger, the powers-that-be will not do what need to be done to protect the public good because it is not PC. Thank God my son, whose door took the impact of that reckless senior, was not injured.

  • Eric

    I was involved in an accident with a 90 year old that was using the center turning lane as a traffic lane. She said, according to witnesses and people who helped her after the collision was she never saw me. She also didn’t hear me as I honked my horn about 4 times before impact. Nothing. If I hadn’t moved my car to try and get out of there it would have been much worse. Lobbyist say making an elderly person prove they can still drive is discriminatory, no it’s not. It’s called safety.

  • Karen

    How many times does this have to happen before something is done about this. It’s amazing how many stated DO NOT require elderly to renew and retested. Tennessee they can mail it in and never have to be evaluated. Studies show that elderly are 3 times more likely than a teenager to have an accident due to confusion of petals, slowed reaction time, hard of hearing, poor vision, etc.. They are more likely to NOT survive an accident due to age. You my as well give them a gun with one bullet in it. That is what is happening everytime they get behind the wheel. I’m not saying none of them drive…just that if they take that responsibility they need to pass the test. Who wants to be found of vehicular homicide or better yet know that you did everyting possible but the elderly person died anyways. What does it take to make EVERYONE safe! I mean seizure patients can’t drive, so what is nexted they can drive and risk having a seizure going down the street! How about a blind person, they have every right to drive….IF THEY COULD SEE…so what’s the difference? NOTHING…If you can’t do the job you don’t get the job. It has nothing to do with discrimination but everything to do with saving lives!

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