She was 17 years old with an appreciation for music and poetry and a gift for art. A high school junior, she had plans, dreams, and an algebra test to take. Heading to Ursuline Academy of Dallas, her car was third through a green light when 90-year old widow Elizabeth Grimes ran an intersection red light and rammed her driver-side door at 45 miles per hour.
Katherine Patricia Bolka died a few days later, a statistic and a sad story. But though her life story ended, her memory, and the love of her family did not. On September 1, 2007, Katie’s Law changed the procedure for license renewal of Texas drivers 79 years and older.
Although people are living longer, and lead healthier lives, aging affects driving ability. Driving is a complicated task integrating physical and mental capabilities including the following:
- Vision: Eyesight and visual acuity diminish with age. Medical conditions and some medications interfere with sensitivity to light, discernment and recognition of pattern, and ability to read signs
- Physical ability: Coordinated, reflexive physical motion declines with age
- Cognition: Fast, appropriate decision-making is an absolute requirement of safe driving
All these faculties diminish with age, even in the best of health.
Katie did not set out that spring day to affect senior licensure in Texas, or have a law named after her. But that is what happened. If older — think about your driving ability. And if injured, get good legal help from a skilled personal injury attorney.