Recently there has been a UK-based petition - which you can view here - that caught my eye. The petition relates to the story of an elderly man's mistaken application of the acceleration pedal as opposed to the break (which killed a pedestrian), and calls for retesting of drivers aged 70yrs and older every 3 yrs.
The petition got me thinking about other likewise unintentional dangers that (particularly elderly) drivers can pose, like unsafe acceleration from standstill. Several times I have witnessed the following:
- Elderly person whom I suspect to be deaf (but likely not to have been born deaf),
- Revving the [insert expletive] out of their car,
- Just prior to departure from a driveway or parking space e.g. at local supermarket.
I've often wondered then about the physics:
- What would happen if for any reason, the clutch were to be suddenly disengaged?
- How quickly might they make up the distance between starting point and say, a pedestrian subsequently caught in their path?
When a car moves slowly enough then most people will easily move out of the way unless they are visually impaired, or not looking at where the vehicle is and are themselves deaf or mentally impaired in some other relevant way, or the vehicle is exceptionally or unusually quiet (I concede for example that electric vehicles are extremely quiet).
I hesitated to walk behind this gentleman's car: I did not trust I would be safe. I could not assess a safe distance.
So what is an unsafe acceleration of a vehicle from standstill, for a pedestrian?
We're probably talking a strike time from stop to final speed of under what, 3-4 seconds (most people will seek to move away in that time). Pedestrian location/distance relative to vehicle assumed to be whatever distance the car would cover in that time-frame, but no greater than say six metres?
I understand if this question is removed for being too subjective. Nevertheless I hope you find it the food for thought if nothing else. I really think it needs research, but if already researched, that research desperately needs greater publicity.
Driving is one of the last bastions of independence that people with deteriorating bodies (age-related or other causes) have. It is hard to argue against that, but perhaps education could mitigate the problem (e.g. coping mechanisms for hearing loss, awareness raising for risks), and when necessary, facilitate the reasoning process applied in handling the vulnerable individuals who stand so much to lose from loss of their driving licences. We cannot educate or raise awareness in any way, without facts.
Maybe you could delete this question, but pose a better one for discussion?
I'm not convinced I've asked the 'right question'. I don't know how fast vehicles can accelerate from standstill, let alone backwards (e.g. parking space), or the difference between damage caused to a person from initial impact, versus being displaced and experiencing a subsequent full stop when their body strikes an obstacle.