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Elderly Drivers Face Increased Risks of Fatal Car Accidents in Massachusetts

A former Harvard Law School Professor, 82-year-old Detlev F. Vagts, previously entered a guilty plea for motor-vehicle homicide after a fatal scooter and car accident in Massachusetts. He has since been sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years of probation, according to The Harvard Crimson.
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Our Boston car accident attorneys remember this accident from last summer. Vagts hit and killed a 54-year-old Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart teacher who was riding a scooter. Vagts was reportedly driving in the wrong lane and hit the woman at the corner of Warn Street and Grant Avenue. He reportedly drove approximately 450 feet before be turned around to return to the scene of the accident. The woman and her scooter were located more than 80 feet from the scene of the accident.

Vagts and his wife reportedly were running late for a dentist appointment, and they also confessed to being lost.

Newton District Court Judge Dyanne J. Klein, who meted out the sentencing, also ordered Vagts to stay in his home and wear a GPS monitoring bracelet. The judge has granted him permission to leave the house for medical appointments only. He has had his driving privilege revoked in addition to the mandatory 15-year license revocation associated with vehicular homicide. Under the circumstances of this accident, the man could have faced nearly three years in jail.

“This defendant has now admitted and accepted responsibility for his role in the death of Marcia Kearney,” said Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone.

Vagts has also been sentenced to pay restitution to the woman’s family for storage fees, as well as to write a letter of apology.

These types of accidents, ones that involve senior-citizen drivers, oftentimes bring up questions and concerns regarding these individuals’ ability to safely navigate our roadways in a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, many of these elderly drivers are unable to recognize when their driving skills have diminished, and that they’ve likely become a hazard on Boston roads. Loved ones of these individuals are oftentimes hesitant to bring up this problem with an elderly family member in fear of offending anyone.

Here are some signs to help identify whether an elderly driver is at a significant risk for a car accident:

-Getting lost in areas that were at one time familiar.

-Dents and scratches appearing on the vehicle with no memory of how they got there.

-Failing to abide by speed limits.

-Frequent occurrences of near-hit accidents.

-Overwhelming sensation from road signs, signals and traffic.

If you feel that an elderly family member or other loved one may be experiencing any of the signs listed above, you’re urged to talk to them about their safety on our roadways. Bringing it to their attention may be the only way to help keep them from a serious accident. Remember, giving up the ability to drive has nothing to do with their independence and they can still leave a healthy and exciting, but safe, life!

If you or an elderly loved one has experienced a car accident in the Boston area, contact Massachusetts Car Accident Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-877-617-5333.

Additional Resources:

Former Professor Pleads Guilty For Homicide, The Harvard Crimson, by Julia L. Ryan
More Blog Entries:

Top 200 Most Dangerous Intersections in Massachusetts Illustrate Risks of Pedestrian Accidents in Boston and Elsewhere, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, September 25, 2011

82-Year-Old Faces Stiff Sentences after Fatal Newton Car Accident, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, September 20, 2011