Keeping a close eye on elderly drivers
Forrest Ladd will likely never be held to account for the July 15, 2005, accident that claimed the life of Douglas High School teenager Bridget Chambers.
The 80-year-old was on his way home late that afternoon, and pulled out directly in front of Chambers’ car, killing her and severely injuring her passengers.
The accident sparked a successful effort to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of Highway 395 and Stephanie Way.
But the human factor in the accident is not so easy to deal with. Mr. Ladd has dementia and was ruled incompetent to assist in his defense. No one can say whether his disease was a factor in the accident eight months ago. It does appear clear that Mr. Ladd will never legally sit behind the wheel of an automobile again.
Nevada law specifies that age is not grounds for re-examining people for a driver’s license. That means the only thing someone over the age of 25 has to do to get their license renewed for four years is pass a vision test.
That leaves the decision on whether someone is still safe to drive up to the driver and the driver’s family. Some will argue elderly drivers are safe to drive even if they are not.
And therein lies the danger. We don’t advocate discriminating against older drivers because of their age, but we also don’t relish the thought of sharing our highways with an increased number of elderly drivers who have outlived their driving skills.
It is unlikely the law will come to the rescue, so it is up to each of us to take charge of our own safety by keeping an eye on older drivers in our families.
– From The Record Courier