Most of us are aware of the danger caused by convicted drunk drivers who get behind the wheel again without treatment or before they’ve followed all the necessary legal steps to regain their licenses. We’ve written about this very serious problem before.
However, as a recent article in The State shows, certain kinds of medical histories and conditions can have consequences that are just as deadly. The State article discusses the driving history of an inactive Richland County sheriff’s deputy named George Mickens, who has been involved in several serious accidents–including a June 30, 2011, crash that occurred as Mickens was driving a county-owned vehicle. The crash claimed the life of a 67-year-old retired contractor and community activist named Tommy Hawkins, and put Mickens on inactive deputy status with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
As The State uncovered, Mickens’ troubles didn’t stop there. According to the report, he was involved in another accident in December 2011.
One of the most distressing aspects of the June collision, aside from the loss of Mr. Hawkins’ life, is that Mickens was operating an official Richland County vehicle. During the investigation into the accident that killed Mr. Hawkins, the deputy revealed that he has a history of previous seizures–and that he’d had a seizure at work in the past. Because of this medical history, we believe allowing Mickens to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways was an unacceptable risk that posed a danger to others.
As our own Bert Louthian says in the article, “This is an accident that should never have happened. Instead, Mr. Hawkins lost his life needlessly, leaving behind his wife, Linda, five children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren..
It was only after the December accident that Mickens South Carolina drivers’ license was finally canceled. Every state in the U.S. has requirements about drivers whose abilities may be impaired for medical or biological reasons–such as aging drivers, drivers with disabilities, with diseases that affect their vision, hearing or reflexes, etc. Unfortunately, without alternatives to help with enforcement, or better systems to help medically impaired drivers find other means of transportation, many states have to rely on people to voluntarily comply with decisions by regulators–or to have families who can take on the burdens of assisting or monitoring those who cannot drive themselves. We believe that kind of system isn’t adequately safeguarding South Carolina drivers.