Auto Accident at Bethesda Salon

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

Tuesday afternoon, an elderly driver crashed into the storefront of Bethesda’s Citrine Salon. ABC 7 reported that the driver approached the building via the driveway, sped up, hit a pylon, traveled along the retaining wall and then crash into the front of the building. The accident occurred around 3pm and the driver and two salon employees were taken to the hospital for treatment. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The incident is eerily similar to last week’s accident at the Georgetown Whole Foods where, luckily, no one was injured.

For me, the two events bring to mind the question of when someone (our grandparents, parents, and eventually, though we don’t want to think about, ourselves) should stop driving. And with the increasing age and life expectancy of the US population, the potential risks of having elderly drivers on the road are only going to become more and more pertinent for both our families and our public safety.

Having recently dealt with this issue with my 90 year old grandma, whose VW bug looked like a bumper car, I can say–at the very least–it’s difficult.  The driver can feel unreasonably attacked, because they haven’t yet been in an accident, and fearful that taking the car away is just one step towards total loss of independence. On the flip side, family members are worried about the safety of their loved one and the potential risk having them on the road poses to others. All-in-all it’s a particularly messy situation involving a wide range of emotions from all parties.

Unfortunately, DMVs offer little regulatory help.  For the most part, they don’t require drivers to re-take road tests after a certain age and, often times, an eye test is all that’s required to renew your license.  In my situation, my grandma finally agreed to take a DMV given roadtest, which was not required by the California DMW, and she failed the test for multiple reasons.

If you’re looking for tips on safe driving, advice on how to talk with your loved one about giving up the keys, state DMV regulations for elderly drivers, alternative transportation options, AAA’s is a great resource with tons of advice on the subject.

Rebecca Johnson

A born and bred New Yorker, Rebecca made the big trip “down south” to DC in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her days strategizing/planning/ideating how interactive products can help her clients and change the world. In her free time, she explores DC’s ever expanding bar, restaurant and small business scene, plays a crap ton of soccer, attends concerts that contribute to her sleep deprivation and embarks on local adventures. Read why Rebecca loves DC or follow her on twitter.

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2 thoughts on “Auto Accident at Bethesda Salon

  1. After a scary incident where my grandmother drove 20 miles only to wander into a liquor store and not know what she was doing there, my parents were told by the police that the only way to take the car away was for her to kill someone or be declared incompetent, which is an enormous hurdle. A sympathetic cop unofficially recommended that my dad disable the car, so he disconnected the starter. Of course, the next time she tried to drive, she asked the neighbor to check out her car. Thank god the neighbor had the sense to call my mom when he found the sabotage, and he kept it from Grandma.

    This story is only slightly less frustrating than my other set of grandparents, who refused to stop driving, despite the fact that Grandma was blind and Grandpa couldn’t physically operate the car. The thought of her driving (she had been a very poor driver, even when she could see) with him directing her verbally nearly gave my dad a nervous breakdown.

    Bottom line is there need to be retesting laws, and AARP needs to stop fighting it. Families shouldn’t have to go through this.

  2. One of the disturbing things about senior driving is just how much of a badge of honor many seniors consider the ability to still drive to be. Supposed ability, rather.

    Often enough, while getting ready in the morning I’ll have the Today Show on and will hear the segment where they show the senior birthdays with the Smuckers jar. They often read a small personal interest blurb about something the person is proud of: “…the secret to so-and-so’s longevity has been…”, or “..happily married for…”. A fair number of those blurbs note that the senior in question is still driving! And these are the oldest of the old – people well over 90!

    The same notions of independence that are associated with driving and having a car at a very young age (15 or 16) are apparently hard to relinquish at a very old age.