Driving class to decrease fatal crashes among seniors

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JEFFERSON CITY - As mid-Missouri citizens begin to age, the AARP doesn't believe they should lose their privilege to drive.

Therefore, the organization held a driving safety class on Thursday in Jefferson City.

According to a national study, fatal crash rates begin to slowly increase among drivers 50-54 years old. The increase becomes more noticeable with drivers ages 70 and older before peaking for drivers ages 85 and older. The fatality rates per mile driven among drivers 85 years and older is the highest of any age category on the road.

On top of that, the number of deaths per 1,000 crashes also increases as people get older. Drivers who are 70 years old and older represent the highest rate at 4.8 deaths per 1,000 crashes.

Instructors of these safety classes go over topics including technological advancements in cars along with the loss of both hearing and sight that come naturally with old age.

"As people get older their reflexes go down. Their hearing goes down, their eyesight gets worse," said instructor Eric Mueller. "So basically it's trying to improve driving. Statistics in the past have shown this class has really helped cut down on our road accidents and keeping our senior citizens driving longer."

One statistic in particular comes from the state of California. It said people who take the class get in 1.7 percent less accidents than those who don't.

Two students listen as volunteer instructor Eric Mueller discusses proper seat belt fastening at an AARP-sponsored driving school on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The class was held at Capital Region Southwest Campus in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a way to help citizens ages 50 and older brush up on basic driving skills. (KOMU/Madeleine Ptacin)



Eric Mueller looks at his guidebook during an AARP-sponsored driving class at Capital Region Southwest Campus in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. Mueller said the class helps reduce road accidents and keep senior citizens on the road longer. (KOMU/Madeleine Ptacin)



An AARP-sponsored driving class was held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Capital Region Southwest Campus in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. A statistic in California found that drivers who took the class had 1.7 percent fewer accidents than drivers who did not participate. (KOMU/Madeleine Ptacin)



Volunteer instructor Eric Mueller teaches a group of citizens about proper driving distance during a safety class held at Capital Region Southwest Campus in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. AARP reported that fatal crash rates begin to increase after the age of 70. (KOMU/Madeleine Ptacin)

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