Senior driver Dick Van Dyke faces DMV test after car crash

Veteran actor Dick Van Dyke escaped serious injury in a solo car crash last week but a report said that police have submitted paperwork to the Department of Motor Vehicles, asking the agency to re-test the 97-year-old’s driving abilities due to his advanced age.

This move isn’t unheard of after police respond to the scene of an accident involving a senior driver. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, older adults’ driving abilities can be affected by changes in vision, physical function and ability to reason, while people 70 and older have higher death rates per 1,000 crashes than people in younger age groups.

On the morning of March 15, police in Malibu responded to an accident involving a silver sedan that had crashed into a gate, TMZ reported. There, they found the TV and film legend behind the wheel of a  2018 Lexus LS 500. Van Dyke said that his car slid, and he lost control before it slammed into the gate. That morning, roads in the area were wet from the latest storm moving through Southern California.

Van Dyke, star of TV and film classics, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Mary Poppins,” was bleeding from the nose and mouth and may have suffered a concussion, TMZ reported. But he told responding paramedics, who treated him at the scene, that he didn’t need to go to the hospital. Someone came to the scene and picked him up.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that drugs and alcohol were not involved but that police had submitted paperwork to the DMV asking that Van Dyke undergo a driving test.

The DMV doesn’t set age limits for older people keeping their driver’s licenses, stating that it wants to help people maintain their “driving independence” for as long as they can safely drive. However, anyone 70 or older must renew their license in person, as opposed to completing the process online or by mail. During the renewal, the driver is tested on vision and their knowledge of driving.

The DMV says “the time may come when we must limit or stop driving temporarily or permanently.” Warning signs for an unsafe driver include: Getting lost in familiar places; dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes or garage doors near where it usually parked; and frequent close calls or collisions.

Following news of Van Dyke’s crash, one fan wrote on Twitter: “Dick Van Dyke is a treasure but come on, man you shouldn’t be driving at 97 years old. No one is going to love you any less if you get an Uber.”

This crash also comes nearly 10 years after Van Dyke was involved in another traffic-related incident on the 101 freeway in Calabasas. In that August 2013 incident, Van Dyke was pulled from his Jaguar after it caught fire on the freeway, the Daily Mail reported. 

The crash also comes four years after another famous 97-year-old, Prince Philip, was asked to stop driving after he was involved in a car crash near Queen Elizabeth II’s Sandringham estate in the U.K. Neither the late Duke of Edinburgh nor anyone else was seriously hurt in the January 2019 crash, in which Philip, driving his Land Rover SUV, collided with a sedan carrying two women and a 9-month-old baby boy.

Van Dyke has enjoyed a renewed bout of fame in recent years, in part for being an entertainment legend who continues to be active even as he approaches 100. The “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” star, who has won four Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy, returned to the big screen in 2018, making a dancing cameo in the film “Mary Poppins Returns.” Last month, he became the oldest contestant ever to appear on Fox singing contest “The Masked Singer.”

In a 2016 interview with the Daily Mail, Van Dyke attributed his health and longevity to staying as active as possible.

“I go to the gym every day,” Van Dyke said at the time. “I also go to dance rehearsal … Age is more than a number, it’s a mindset.”

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