Second elderly motorist in a week drives wrong way on I-95

Posted Jan. 22, 2011, at 1:42 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:17 a.m.

CARMEL, Maine — For the second time in less than a week, an elderly driver was stopped going the wrong way on Interstate 95, according to Maine State Police.

Around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, an 87-year-old woman traveled north in the southbound lanes for seven miles from the Etna-Dixmont exit to the Carmel-Winterport exit, Trooper Forrest Simpson said about 30 minutes after the Orono barracks began getting reports about a wrong-way driver.

“It appears that she thought she was on a two-lane road,” he said.

The woman never exited the interstate but pulled over to clean off her windshield. Simpson said an off-duty corrections officer pulled over in front of her to keep the woman from resuming her errant journey.

Although no one was injured in the incident, two cars Saturday did go off the Interstate in attempts to avoid colliding with the elderly driver, the trooper said. One car sustained some damage.

On Wednesday, a 91-year-old man prompted a flurry of police activity after he got on I-95 in Orono and headed north — in the southbound lanes — in his green Buick Century.

Maine State Police Trooper Chris Cookson said Wednesday that the man, who was not identified, managed to make his way from mile marker 197 to mile marker 204 before his wrong-way drive came to an end.

“When he realized traffic was coming toward him, he drove into a snowbank,” Cookson said.

The troopers declined to identify the drivers.

Police officers and doctors are among the few people who can directly recommend that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles test a driver they suspect should not be driving, Robert O’Connell, director of driver license services for the bureau, told the Bangor Daily News two years ago. Even then, he said, it’s up to the Secretary of State’s Office to determine who undergoes special testing and who doesn’t.

Other than the 16-year minimum age to receive one’s initial driver’s license, O’Connell said in 2009 that there are few age-based rules or regulations regarding driving eligibility because there is such variation in how people age, as well as factors other than age that can impair driving skills.

After age 62, license renewals are required after four years instead of six and a vision check is required with each renewal. If additional testing is determined to be needed, drivers may face a written exam and a road test, as well as a vision check.

BDN reporter Meg Haskell contributed to this report.

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