The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) has completed an investigation into the February fatal Florida tour bus crash that killed five and injured almost every elderly passenger onboard. According to a Highlands Today article, the woman who turned left in front of the bus will not be charged. Betty Adams, 81, of Lake Placid, Florida, was issued a civil infraction for improper lane change, according to the FHP.
Adams was trying to turn left onto U.S. 27 when she hit the Sunburst tour bus. Twenty-nine senior citizens were onboard, along with three others, when the bus overturned, throwing several passengers out of the windows. The bus driver was found to have a clean driving record and was not at fault for the accident. The FHP report says that Adams failed to see the approaching bus before she turned, putting her right in the path of the oncoming bus. Adams was not injured in the crash. The criminal infraction will require her to make a court appearance.
Elderly Drivers in Florida
According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death among 65 to 74-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among 75 to 84-year olds.
It is not just aging that affects driving. The side effects of medication, degenerative diseases, a compromised vision, hearing, mobility, reaction time, and cognitive function can all be affected as one ages.
Many people are commenting that elderly drivers should have their ability to drive reviewed on a regular basis. Current Florida law requires a mandatory vision test for drivers age 80 and above whenever a license is renewed, once every six years.
Our sincere condolences go out to everyone involved in this tragedy. The bus passengers were from the Boston area on a week-long educational vacation trip called Exploritas, affiliated with South Florida Community College in Avon Park.
A reputable Florida bus accident attorney will generally want to explore all of the contributing causes of an accident involving a bus, include road conditions, the ability of the driver, and safety of the bus. Buses are considered common carriers and owe a standard of care to their passengers. A bus being operated by a municipality may be shielded from claims by sovereign immunity, which does not apply to a private charter. Because of the high center of gravity, size, and weight, an accident rollover is likely with a bus and so is traumatic injury.