Old Drivers and Bicyclists

A 91 year old woman was driving her vehicle on February 6th, 2015 on a city street in Mason City Iowa, when she struck and injured a bicyclist. The bicyclist, Terrie Eliason was a 54 year old cyclist, driving in the right of way, when she was struck by the older woman’s vehicle. It was broad daylight at the time.

The driver, 91 year old Patricia Fullerton, left the scene of the accident and drove home after hitting Eliason. She did not stop to check out the cyclist or help. She did not call 911. When tracked down by law enforcement, she was charged with failure to yield and leaving the scene of an accident. (KIMT.com)

Older drivers present a particularly large danger to cyclists. While getting older doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a bad driver, but there is no question that older drivers are more likely to cause car accidents, and hit cyclists. Declining vision, a loss of skills, and slower reactions times all combine to make older drivers more dangerous to those around them. A lack of flexibility makes it hard for many older drivers to turn their head and see bicyclists.

Families of older drivers need to take responsibility, and step in when it is obvious that an older relative should not be on the road. And cyclists need to take heed, and be on the lookout for vehicles that are driving in an unusual manner, that have older drivers (slow driving Buick?), or when drivers appear to be on the cell phone, or otherwise distracted. One thing is for sure – when a car hits a cyclist, the car always wins. The cyclists need to protect themselves as well.

Statistics show that drivers over the age of 80 are just as likely as teens to be in accidents, and to be the cause of those accidents (I could not locate any statistics on drivers over the age of 90). The older driver population is increasing each year, meaning more and more older drivers on the road. Little is being done to regulate the older driving issue, in most States.

It was two years ago, in February of 2013 that a 20 year old Johns Hopkins University student, Nathan Kransnopoler, was killed on his bicycle, when an 83 year-old driver didn’t see him in the bike lane, and stuck Nathan. Many bicycle accidents are avoidable. We all just need to be a little more careful, and take a little more responsibility.