Elderly Driving Simulation Hits Close to Home

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COLUMBIA - Ford's "Third Age Suit" made a stop at Machens in Columbia Thursday to give drivers a feel for what it is like to drive as an elderly person. The suit is intended to help car manufacturers be aware of what features new cars should include to keep elderly drivers safe on the road.

MODOT statistics for elderly drivers suggest older drivers in Missouri are involved in many accidents on the road. In 2005, people aged 65 and over were 15 percent of all licensed drivers. Older drivers were involved in 15 percent of fatal crashes and 12 percent of crashes with serious injuries over the past three years.

MU student, Nina Bolka, told KOMU Thursday how a 90-year-old driver killed her 17-year-old sister in a car accident about five years ago. She says the elderly woman ran a red light and hit her sister's car. She died of brain injuries a few days later. Since the accident, the student has been an advocate for stricter driving standards for older drivers. Texas state legislators eventually wrote a law named after her sister cracking down on older drivers renewing drivers licenses.

67-year-old Ray Callahan said he feels his motor abilities are fine, and he hopes he will be able to drive for a long time. However, he agreed that he knew older drivers who drive poorly. He is willing to be tested for his motor ability in upcoming years.

MODOT warns that as the baby boomer generation ages, 18 percent of Missouri's population will be senior citizens by 2020.