Concerns over elderly drivers after multiple crashes into buildings this year

Concerns over elderly drivers

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Crews were left picking up the pieces Tuesday after a vehicle went crashing through a wall at the 'Extra Mile' gas station convenience store in Thousand Palms.

The fire department says the 73-year-old driver confused the gas pedal for the break after leaving McDonald's across the street. The convenience store was red-tagged and shut down for a couple of hours.

California Highway Patrol officers saying she has now been ordered to re-take her driver's license test.

"This is something we've seen several times in the Coachella Valley over the past several months," said officer Mike Radford, public information officer for CHP.

The Baskin-Robbins in Rancho Mirage is still closed after investigators said a 62-year-old driver failed to yield at a stop sign in time back in January.

In February, a bystander at a boutique in Palm Desert suffered major injuries after a vehicle plowed through the front.

Two days later, three people were injured at a Cathedral City cafe after a driver mistakenly stepped on the accelerator of their Tesla.

"Most of the time it has been an elderly driver," Radford said.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway, certain functions can decline with age which could create factors contributing to a crash. For instance, the ability to turn your neck to a specific degree can create issues for a safe turn, or the ability to make a quick decision can also contribute.  

But for many members of the senior population, driving is an important part of their independence.

"I think for most of us, driving is the biggest thing there is," said local resident Rose Lewis.

The Department of Motor Vehicles requires all drivers to retest in person once their license expires past the age of 70. The California DMV has provided a free Senior Guide for Safe Driving. It includes a questionnaire for assessing driving and information on how to make proper adjustments to a vehicle that can help counter the physical effects aging can have.



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