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100-year-old driver hits 11 people in Los Angeles

(CNN) -- A 100-year-old man is apologetic after barreling into a crowd of mostly school kids in Los Angeles and sending 11 people to the hospital.

“I’m sorry,” Preston Carter told CNN affiliate KTLA. “I lost control of the car. The brakes failed, I think.”

Nine children and two adults were taken to hospitals, according to Erik Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, and most had bumps and bruises.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon when Carter was backing up from a grocery store near an elementary school in southern Los Angeles.

His Cadillac jumped the curb and plowed into the crowd, according to Richard French, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Classes had let out at Main Street Elementary School and students were waiting to be picked up by their parents when the crash happened.

Officers are investigating the incident, but it does not appear that Carter will be charged, police told the affiliate .

Police will also try to determine whether a malfunction with Carter’s car led to the accident.

But whether the crash was caused by faulty brakes or not, the centenarian, who will turn 101 next month, will not be driving anymore, his daughter told the affiliate.


Isn’t it about time we did something about this? I don’t see how any century-old person could be qualified to drive. I don’t care how good your genetics are, by the time you reach the age of 100, your reaction time has been slowing down for more than 50 years!

@Whitey ; There is a saying that age only matters if you’re wine or cheese! You cannot make a blanket statement like “I don’t see how any century old person could be qualified to drive”.

In our city we had an elderly gentleman who played Santa Clause for many years because of his great white beard. He too drove a Cadillac, and like anyone over 80 here, took an annual test and passed with flying colors till he was 102. He then missed a few things and VOLUNTARILY stopped driving, although he could have continued.

He passed away at age 103.

Regular mandatory testing and retraining is the key to keeping older drivers fit to drive. My mother-in-law was a good driver (never had an accident) untill she voluntarily stopped at age 92, mostly because of her aches and pains, not a lack of perception and reaction.

Her insurance rates only went up a litttle when she reached 90; the company charged her way less than anyone under 25.

Here in NH you have to take a drivers test every 5 years once you reach the age of 70.

Some people aren’t capable of driving when they reach a certain age, but REFUSE to stop driving. I’ve witnessed a few driving that haven’t a clue. It’s a shame that something like has to happen before the driver realizes that they shouldn’t be driving anymore.

We took my mother-in-laws license away years ago (she’s only 88). We just took my father-in-laws license away (he’s 90). Neither one wanted to give up their license. But it became necessary. And we probably should have done it sooner. Some senior citizens don’t have a family to keep watch or take care of them when we do take their license away. Now my sister-in-law who lives near them has now become a taxi service. She was just getting out of taxi mode when her last kid finally left for college.


If we were talking about a 70-year-old, or even an 80-year-old, I’d agree. I’ve met people in that age group whose reflexes, senses, and judgment were still at a level where they could safely drive. I’ve yet to meet anyone over the age of 90 who has the reflexes to react to a quickly changing situation.

I’ve often complained that it’s far too easy to get a driver’s license with minimal or poor driving skills, and the fact that someone could pass such a test at 102 could mean many things other than “he can still drive safely.”

a person who drives a big rig or a cdl holder has to see a doctor every 1 to 2 years to be able to drive for a living. i think after a person reaches the age of say 65 they should have to see a doctor to be sure they our able to drive a vechiele. this only my opion please don’t shoot the messanger! as Whitey said there is older people out there that can still drive today with out been a safety hazard. everyone ages differently

@Whitey and others ;The gentleman in question was known to the whole city, and he volunteered to be tested anytime.

I agree that after a certain age drivers should be tested regularly for reflexes and physical fitness to drive. Many years ago I was nearly killed by a kindly old pastor who gave me (a college student) a ride home, only to make a left turn into an oncoming truck. He was tested immediately and his reaction time was 3/4 of a second. A normal, wide awake driver would have a reaction time of 1/10 of a second. Needless to say he lost his license and his daughter sold what was left of the car.

My wife used to perform physicals for commercial airline pilots. These are tough physicals, and she found it heartbreaking to have to “ground” those who did not pass the physical.The son of a friend of hers was in his mid forties, with many hours of flying experience, including bush flying in the far North. He had heart problems and is now “flying a desk”.

Here recently a school bus driver had a stroke while behind the wheel. A dapper grade 6 girl raised on a farm was able to take over the controls and bring the bus to a safe stop. The physicals for bus drivers should be particularly stringent.

California does not have mandatory testing for senior drivers. It seems to me that they should, and any jurisdiction that issues drivers licenses should. There are no special tests for seniors in Maryland, either. You just have to pass the vision test that all drivers do every 5 years. I think it should be more than just a vision examination. My father in-law is 84 and can only find his way to places he has been before - many times. He can’t process directions anymore, yet he still drives. We drive them whenever they need to go someplace new, but how many seniors don’t do that?

@jtsanders ; Unfortunately all these old driver VOTE, and many state governments are afraid to get tough with incapable older drivers. If licencing was a federal responsibility it would be less of a problem. Ironically, the best mega-crash movie was called “Mayhem on Interstate 405” or something like that. It has an older driver (Buddy Ebson of The Beverly Hillbillies) have a heart attack on Labor Day weekend on the very busy highway. And he was driving a lumbering old Cadillac.

If you take a course in defensive driving, there is a section on drivers to watch out for. The older driver in the lumbering boat is one of those; partly because they drive less in the rush hour after retirement and partly because they they may not be able to react quickly to anything unusual. My dad was in that category. He was a menace on the road anywhere outside his village of 1000.

I spent 4 weeks driving in Europe this year and it was work! Even with a Tom Tom it was difficult ot find some destinations. When I had a relative with me who knew the area, I could concentrate on the traffic and had no problem.

part of the reason they aren’t out in rush hour traffic is because they don’t have to. They have all day to do something. If you need groceries, and you’re already up and about at 7am, go ahead and go. Not like you have to hurry home to get ready for work later

I know this makes the news but there are many other impaired drivers out there besides older Americans and veterans. Like the 23 year old kid that had been drinking, crossed the center line and killed three generations last week in Minnesota. You just can’t make blanket statements about who is qualified to drive based on age. I understand the kids were lined up at a concession stand or truck so there might have been an unsafe situation by having so many kids clustered together in a parking lot in the first place.

Anytime mention is made of retesting drivers once they reach a certain age the AARP machine kicks into gear and starts carping about discriminating against senior citizens and so on.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with being retested at a certain age and I would gladly consent to whatever that age would be.

Some year ago an 80 something year old man caused all kinds of havoc downtown while trying to parallel park.
He backed up and hit the car behind him, went into panic mode, and stomped the gas as he shifted the trans into drive. This rocketed him into the car in front of him and (still never letting off the gas) put the trans into reverse and plowed again in the car he had hit first. Still revving he shifted into drive again while turning the wheel.
The curb there was very high but his big Buick leaped over it and proceed to sideswipe a number of parked cars while taking out half a dozen parking meters and chunks of the curb before coming to rest against the wall of a business.
The gentleman claimed that his “brakes failed”. The only saving grace was that there just happened to be an empty sidewalk there at the time when normally there was a lot of foot traffic.

A couple of years ago I saw an elderly (80s probably) gentleman in a new Cadillac stopped on the side of the road, standing in front of the car, and staring across a wheat field. Thinking he might be broken down on a hot day I stopped to offer some assistance. He was totally oblivious to my getting out of the car and asking him 3 times if he needed help while I was standing only 10 feet away from him.
I’m not manhandling him so I turned around and left; with him apparently never even knowing that I had stopped.
I stopped in the small town a few miles up and told the local cop about the gentleman. What happened after that I have no idea.

“Unfortunately all these old driver VOTE, and many state governments are afraid to get tough with incapable older drivers.”

Maybe. But there are many more younger voters. By your logic, nothing should get done if anyone complains that a law change is unduly restrictive.

Well if it was a 17 year old driver what then, Sure we can guess, sure it is fraught with possibilities due to age, but until we hear the facts it is too soon to judge, oops that was not the brake pedal darn.

A dapper grade 6 girl raised on a farm was able to take over the controls and bring the bus to a safe stop

My first thought was, what a girl. Then, I remembered being raised on a farm. She probably has considerable driving time on tractors and pickups. Still, good job!

Testing is appropriate and it should be strict, but having any arbitrary age limit would be age discrimination.

In CA, like most places, driving a personal car is the only practical way of getting around. Taking that away, is taking their livelihood away.

Had this driver been 50 years old and made the same mistake (which I am sure it does happen), it would not have gotten much attention.

@jtsanders : it’s not my LOGIC; it’s a fact that politicians are scared to death to cramp the style of seniors.

However, I agree that if enough bodies pile up then a groundswell of complaints from the general public will cause a tightening up in testing seniors. Here we recently toughened up the impaired driving laws; after 3 convictions, your car as well as your license will be taken.

The general public seems to support the law; last year a drunk driver driving a concrete mixer truck wiped out a family of 5 stopped at a red light. He got 7 years in jail and barred from driving for 10 years.

I’m 70+ and I wouldn’t be afraid to take a driver’s test when I renew my license. In fact, I would welcome the chance. I had a colleague who had a pilot’s license. However, when she had an opportunity to pilot her plane to a conference, she declined. She hadn’t flown in a couple of months and said that one ought to fly more often than that to be competent. The same is true with driving. I drive 18-20,000 miles a year on all kinds of roads, and often have passengers with me. I have my vision checked once a year by my optometrist. I stay physically fit by doing a 3 mile walk five days a week and try to do the 3 miles in 45 minutes. I am also considering purchasing a car with a manual transmission when I replace my present car. I think that having to shift is one way to be in control when driving. If I find I don’t have the coordination to shift gears, I’ll turn in my license.

Doc, much of the general public IS “seniors”!

First lets get the drunks off the road. Let’'s impound their cars if they fail a field test, than confiscate the car if they’re found guilty. They’re a far, far, far bigger problem than we seniors.

@Mountainbike; the latest issue of Consumer Reports has an excellent article on risky drivers, and they cite young drivers and older ones as major risks. This was not an article on drunk driving, which needs very tough legislation , like in Skandinavian countries.

The young drivers were by far the most dangerous due to lack of experience, lots of adrenilin, and poor judgement. Very old drivers were 5 times as likely to have accidents as the average driver, but since they drive much less and not in rush hour traffic, the get better insurance rates.