Car accident at elementary school ignites controversy over driver's age

Car accident at elementary school ignites controversy over driver's age

PALM DESERT, Calif. - A 10-year-old boy remains in the hospital today after a car crashed through a fence during recess at Lincoln Elementary School in Palm Desert yesterday morning.

The driver is an 83-year-old, whose license expires at the end of the month.  No criminal charges will be filed against him.

The Riverside County Sheriff's station in Palm Desert submitted a request to the California DMV for a priority re-examination to see if the driver should have been behind the wheel in the first place. It will then be up to the DMV to determine if his license should be revoked.

The accident is igniting passion from local residents and leaves many wondering, how old is too old to drive?

"I think he was too old to drive, number one," said Stan Shur, an 81-year-old Palm Desert resident.  

"I think he shouldn't be driving anymore that's for sure," said Loretta Shur, a 76-year-old Palm Desert resident.

According to the California DMV, more than 2.5 million drivers in the state are 70 or older.  Licenses must be renewed every five years, and starting at age 70 drivers much renew in person, taking a written test and eye exam.

"I think everyone should have more testing done, once they turn 65.  The DMV should have more control," said Diane Caress, who works with senior citizens. 

Stan Shur is 81 years old.  His doctor told him he's still able to drive, but he chose to give up his driving privileges earlier this year.

"I'm frightened I might hit other people, or do the wrong thing," Shur said.

His wife, Loretta, is now his designated driver, and says more people should recognize their limitations.

"I feel that all seniors should think about it.  I know it's a hard thing to give up, but if you feel it's the time, just do it," Loretta said.

Others say older drivers are not only capable of being behind the wheel, but they need it for independence.  

"For grocery shopping, beauty shopping, socializing.  Our children don't live here so we're totally on our own," said Mae Amram, an 83-year-old Palm Desert resident and driver.

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