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Tragic trends involving senior drivers

A tragic car accident on a late October afternoon took the lives of two people in Geneseo. According to the Livingston County Sheriff's Office, a car pulled into the path of an oncoming farm truck at the intersection of Triphammer Road and Pole Bridge Road.

Killed in the accident were Willard Beardsley, 84, and his wife Mary, 85, who was driving the couple's car. According to the accident report, Mary came to a stop at the intersection, then continued to go south when the collision occurred. Both had to be extricated from their vehicle. Willard died at the scene while Mary was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The driver of the truck suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An intervention to protect a loved one

The accident underscores a growing trend of tragic events involving older motor vehicle operators. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-fifth of fatal car crashes are caused by individuals age 65 and older.

No senior citizen wants to admit that their skills behind the wheel are in decline. However, ongoing denial can lead to catastrophe. Family members and caregivers should look for certain signs that include:

· Scratches, dents, and other exterior damage to a car

· Delays in getting home due to becoming lost of routes that they commonly drive

· Traffic tickets, including those for impaired driving

· Accounts of near-miss car accidents

Should one or all of these indicators occur, the NHTSA encourages family members to sit down with their elderly family members in what will likely be a challenging but potentially life-saving conversation.

The "best-case scenario" would involve a car that can be adapted based on mobility needs. In many other situations, the only option is to take away the driving privileges and the loved one's actual license.

Resistance is common when faced with a dramatic lifestyle change because of a perceived loss of independence. In some cases, a family physician will make the decision after diagnosing a severe illness or prescribe certain medication that would affect driving abilities.

Life is about milestones. While a patriarch or matriarch of a family will be impacted by the decision, taking away the car keys could save not only their lives but also others who would be sharing the road with them.

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