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The old woman was run over by the car infront of her house.

The young man drove his car over the old woman.

  • run over means hit with a vehicle, but I'm not sure if it works with drive over. – Alejandro Apr 15 '16 at 16:52
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    If you say drive over, I would understand what you meant, but run over is a much more idiomatic way to phrase it. – stangdon Apr 15 '16 at 16:58
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Both are grammatically correct and understandable, but it depends what you want to say.
When speaking in a context (and context is very important in this one) of moving vehicles, if

someone runs over something

it usually means they have literally driven over something, perhaps by accident

The car ran over the squirrel in the road.

would leave a very flattened squirrel. To hit something would be

The car ran into a tree.
The motorcycle ran into the back of the bus.
There was a chain reaction of cars running into each other on the foggy road.

Confusingly, the phrase "I got run over by a car" can also mean that a car ran into me and my body was displaced or thrown from where I was standing.

To

drive over something
We had to drive over a bumpy road to get to the house.
We drove over the bridge to get to the other side.

carries more a feeling of intention. So in your examples

The old woman was run over by the car in front of her house.

has a feeling that an accident occurred, whereas

The young man drove his car over the old woman.

has a feeling of "vehicular homicide" or intentional "reckless driving".

As an added point, when those two phrases are used outside of moving vehicles, the meanings become very different again

1) We have the game on TV, why don't you run over and watch it with us?
2) We have the game on TV, why don't you drive over and watch it with us?

#1 means "get over here quickly" whereas #2 means "come over by car" perhaps quickly

I'll just run over to the store to get some milk (a quick trip)
I'll drive over to the store to get some milk (usually meaning a longer trip in distance and time)

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