Children knocked down in La Rochelle: do we still have all our abilities to drive over 80 years old?

Children knocked down in La Rochelle do we still have

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    in collaboration with

    Dr Gérald Kierzek (Medical Director of Doctissimo)

    On Wednesday, in the center of La Rochelle, several children on bikes were hit by an 83-year-old motorist driving in the wrong direction. A drama that brings the issue of driving age to the forefront. Are we still vigilant enough to drive over 80? Dr Gérald Kierzek answers us.

    What could have happened yesterday in downtown La Rochelle? Around 10 a.m., a group of 12 children on bikes from a leisure center were violently hit by an 83-year-old motorist, who appeared to have lost control of her car.

    3 children in serious condition, a little girl brain dead

    The group of children aged 7 to 11, accompanied by two educators, were cycling to a nearby park for an orienteering race. According to information from the ongoing investigation, the street crossed did not have a cycle path, but the convoy respected all safety measures: helmets, reflective vests and placement on the right side of the lane. But as they approached an intersection, the children were hit by a car without having time to react: according to witnesses, the driver had strayed into the left lane and was therefore driving in the wrong direction.

    The frontal impact was terrible: out of 12 children, 7 were injured and hospitalized, including 3 in serious condition. A little girl must be airlifted to Poitiers. 24 hours after the shock, she was unfortunately declared brain dead.

    The 83-year-old driver, for her part, did not seem to have understood the reason for her deviation. However, she tested negative for alcohol and narcotics. Shocked, the woman was also hospitalized, not being “hearable” at the moment.

    The question of driving age, a real health issue

    Lack of reflex? Absence linked to his condition?… This new drama places the question of elderly driving at the heart of the debate. Because without yet knowing the precise cause of the accident, the fact that the driver is 83 years old may raise questions.

    Can you drive your whole life? In the opinion of Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of Doctissimo, the situation is clear: “No, because we do not retain all our abilities to drive after the age of 80″. After a certain number of years, we lose our agility, visual and hearing acuity, our assessment of distances deteriorates… without taking into account certain treatments which can affect our attention.

    However, there is no regulatory framework to assess the driving abilities of our seniors in France. The idea of ​​a periodic compulsory medical examination, or a fitness check to keep your driving license after the age of 75 has often been mentioned, but the legislative proposals have all been rejected so far. However, it is possible to carry out driving tests on a voluntary basis… But is this really followed?

    Drive or stop? Warning signs

    It is not easy to draw a line under one’s mobility. However, the various tragedies involving an elderly driver must question us. When is it time to stop driving, before you injure yourself and endanger others? According to Dr Gérald Kierzek, several signs can alert us:

    • The car hasn’t had any scratches or dings in a while;
    • There was recently a citation for a driving infraction;
    • The price of car insurance has increased;
    • You now forget to put on the seat belt, use the indicators or mirrors;
    • You feel stress or loss of concentration while driving;
    • You have difficulty at intersections, parking or exiting a parking lot;
    • You lack anticipation when braking;
    • You experience deterioration of vision, hearing, reflexes and motor skills with age;
    • You have a neurological or disabling illness.

    Faced with the slightest sign, we must therefore react.

    “It is recommended to have regular medical check-ups and driving fitness tests (vision, hearing, reflexes, cognitive abilities) with an approved doctor to assess whether you can still drive safely.”

    Road Safety also recommends going through one-day refresher courses when your driving license was taken a long time ago. Actions which rely solely on the goodwill of motorists, and which would undoubtedly benefit from being regulated for the safety of all.