A three-car crash on Route 2 in Canaan, a half hour outside of Bangor is being blamed on driver inattention on the part of a 70-year-old motorist.
Bangor car accident lawyers understand two people were transported to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries, while traffic on the highway was snarled for more than an hour. According to reports from The Bangor Daily News, the at-fault driver failed to notice or yield to a motorcyclist stopped in a construction zone.
The 62-year-old motorcyclist and his 55-year-old passenger were tossed into the rear of a boat trailer, being hauled by a 24-year-old pickup driver. The motorists were stopped in a line of traffic awaiting the go-ahead from a flagger working with the construction crew.
The pickup driver wasn’t injured, but both people on the motorcycle and the at-fault driver were hospitalized. They are expected to recover, but the case raises questions regarding the older driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
Authorities made no mention of the driver texting or talking on his cell phone, changing the radio or eating while operating his vehicle. It appears he simply wasn’t paying attention to the road ahead.
This could be a sign the motorist’s age and accompanying ailments may have been a factor in the crash. This is a delicate issue we will be facing with growing frequency in the years to come.
We are not asserting that 70 is too old or even that the driver’s age in this case necessarily was a factor in the crash. However, it is certainly an element that should be explored, as it is undisputed that the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle without restriction diminishes significantly as we age beyond a certain point.
One example was reported recently in Portland, where an 88-year-old wrong-way driver narrowly avoided a collision with another vehicle on I-95. The crash was only avoided when a state trooper, who received a report of a wrong-way driver, raced to the scene and placed his cruiser in the path of oncoming traffic with lights flashing. Later, when the elder driver was asked why he didn’t take an exit, he responded, “What exit?”
A national traffic safety report released in 2012 by nonprofit transportation researchers with TRIP in Washington D.C. ranked Maine No. 4 in the country for percentage of fatal crashes involving drivers over the age of 65. We also ranked No. 9 in terms of licensed drivers in that age bracket.
Members of the Maine Senior Driving Coalition say we are one of the oldest states in the country, and we will continue to gray as the baby boom generation gets older.
The group indicated there were 5,750 fatalities associated with drivers over the age of 65 in 2010. Although those drivers account for just 8 percent of all vehicle miles traveled, they account for 17 percent of traffic fatalities. Maine has nearly 190,000 licensed drivers over age 65, comprising about 20 percent of the total.
The Maine Department of Transportation has reported this cohort experiences more fatal crashes per miles driven than any other age group, except for 16-year-olds. They are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury or death than drivers between the ages of 25 and 64.
Another part of what makes this so problematic in Maine is that we have many rural areas and not enough public transportation options.
State officials have taken some initiative to address the issue by requiring drivers 65 and older to renew licenses – which requires passage of a vision test – every four years, as opposed to every six, as required of the general population. There are also license restrictions that include things like only allowing driving within 25 miles of home or strictly during daytime hours.
One of the main indicators that family members should intercede on these matters is involvement in a crash, even if it’s minor. Other red flags might include citations for infractions like failure to yield, driving the wrong-way on a one-way, getting lost or any issue with driving that was not problematic until recently.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Three-car accident on Route 2 blamed on driver inattention, Sept. 10, 2014, By Ryan McLaughlin, Bangor Daily News
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Teen Driver in Fatal Maine Crash Convicted, Sentenced, Sept. 10, 2014, Bangor Car Accident Lawyer Blog