Functional capacity and senior drivers
A promising 20-year-old John Hopkins student biked home from the Waverly Farmers Market on a bright Saturday morning in February last year—and never made it.
Riding in the bike lane on West University Parkway, Nathan Krasnopoler was struck by 83-year Jeanette Walke while making a right hand turn, trapping him under her vehicle for a quarter of an hour. Ms. Walke did not call for help—she exited her vehicle and sat nearby. Never regaining consciousness, Mr. Krasnopoler passed away of irreversible brain injury in August 2011.
The devastated family of Mr. Krasnopoler settled a $10 million personal injury action against Ms. Walke and her insurance company several weeks before Mr. Krasnopoler died. Beyond the settlement, Ms. Walke agreed to give up driving privileges permanently. Needless to say, it was too little, too late.
This tragic story illuminates the dangers of biking, and the necessity that drivers demonstrate functional capacity to operate their vehicles. Legislation currently before the Maryland Senate would extend the period between drivers license renewal from five to eight years—a move vigorously opposed by the family of Mr. Krasnopoler and other critics.
Currently, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) provides functional capacity testing to drivers who ask for it, or are referred by law enforcement, family, or medical personnel.
If you wonder about your ability or that of a loved one to operate a car, talk to your family doctor or the MVA—before it is too late.