Backout Accident Kills Baby, Injures Two Others in Kansas City, Missouri
Posted on September 18th, 2012 by Zane Cagle
An elderly driver, backing out of a handicapped spot at his Kansas City, MO church, hit and killed a baby and injured the baby’s grandparents, according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. The driver also struck another vehicle and a fire hydrant before coming to a stop approximately fifty feet from the parking spot. Witnesses at the scene described the car coming out of the spot “like a cannon,” striking the grandparents and young child. People at the scene attempted to revive the baby but were unsuccessful.
This accident is seemingly in line with a program we really support, KidsAndCars.org. KidsAndCars.org is a non-profit organization that promotes safety of children in and around vehicles. This accident is what KidsAndCars.org calls a back over. A lot of helpful information is contained on their site as they bring awareness to child safety involving nontraffic incidents.
This incident raises a familiar question to those with elderly parents: when should this parent stop driving? For many, a car is seen as a tool of independence, allowing the driver to come and go as they please. For a person who has been driving for fifty or sixty years, it can be very upsetting to hear that you may not drive safely any longer. But for the other drivers on the road, this may be necessary. I’m sure in days following this tragic accident, investigators will determine the reason for this tragedy. Leaving a parking space at a high rate is never a good idea. Factors such as a person’s foot slipping can cause an accident. However, when we see an age like 89, our first thought is, should that person have been driving? In no way are we saying you shouldn’t drive at 89, it is absolutely an individual basis. Declining comprehension, use of medications that may impair driving and problems with memory can be factors in some elderly.
The answer to when to take the keys has no universal answer and needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. Some drivers maintain their skills and facilities well into their 80’s and later, while other drivers may need to have their driving privileges restricted. Some things to look for are a driver using medications which can impact concentration, problems with memory loss, problems with eyesight or hearing, or an increase in “close calls” on the road. If your elderly parent has or is experiencing some of these issues, it may be best to sit down and have this discussion with the parent.
In Missouri, drivers aged 70 or above are required to renew their license every 3 years, as opposed to every 6 years for people age 18-69. Drivers aged 65 and up accounted for 150 traffic fatalities in 2009, representing about 13% of all fatalities in the state. This is actually slightly lower than the national average, in which elderly drivers accounted for 16% of all fatalities. The percentage of fatalities will almost certainly rise as the number of elderly drivers increase. There was a 20% increase in the number of elderly drivers from 1999-2008.
As Baby Boomers begin to hit retirement age and the number of elderly drivers increases, it will be increasingly important for children to have this conversation with their parents, no matter how uncomfortable that conversation may be. As the incident above shows, cars can have deadly consequences. The child needs to be mature enough to have this discussion while being respectful of their parent’s concerns.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we want everyone to be safe on the road. For both the elderly person and the public at large, keys need to be taken away when someone is physically not up to the responsibility of driving. While this will no doubt be difficult, for the parent’s sake and for the public’s sake, it is necessary. The last thing anyone wants is for their loved one to be responsible for a catastrophic injury or a wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, call Zane T. Cagle and the Missouri traffic crash attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm today at today for a free consultation.