NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A family in Queens has called for the regular retesting of drivers over the age of 80 after a teenager was hit and killed while crossing the street last week.
17-year-old Madeline Shershen was still studying for her road test before she was hit and killed by a car last Monday morning while walking across the Utopia Parkway crosswalk at 16th Avenue in Whitestone.
Police arrested 88-year-old Sheila Kahn-Prager for running a red light and failing to yield to a pedestrian.
“We saw a purse on the ground, tape everywhere and I knew the worst had happened,” Whitestone resident Rachel Graham said.
Graham was so distraught by the accident along her daily commute, she started a petition with support from the Shershen family urging the state Department of Motor Vehicles to routinely reexamine drivers every two years after their 80th birthday.
“Your body changes drastically from 18 to 88,” Madeline’s sister, Olivia, said.
“We don’t want to limit anyone’s independence but I think it’s pretty reasonable to say if you can’t pass a driving test you shouldn’t be on the road,” Graham said.
Right now, drivers in New York are reevaluated if someone like a doctor or family member reports them to the DMV. The driver is interviewed and takes a vision test, and from there the DMV decides if they need to take a road test as well.
“It doesn’t necessarily follow that at a certain age you can’t drive, you lose skills and abilities,” Robert Sinclair Jr. from AAA says. “In fact we’ve seen because of their better judgement they’re actually better drivers.”
Drivers may also be tested if they have had three accidents in 18 months. The DMV says retesting solely based on age constitutes discrimination.
“This is a huge city, lot of pedestrians and traffic and we need competent drivers aware of their surroundings,” Madeline’s brother, Alexander, said.
The Change.Org petition has been signed more than 7,000 times since it launched three days ago.
“Although our pain will never be taken away I hope we can prevent someone else’s pain,” Olivia said.
The family says they hope to inspire drivers of all ages to be more cautions next time they’re on the road.