SENIOR BEAT

AARP Driver Safety class just the ticket

Posted Aug. 08, 2011, at 10:11 p.m.

It’s a great time to be a retired teacher, especially if you are looking to improve your driving skills. National Retired Teachers Association members received a coupon in the mail recently that entitles them to a free AARP Driver Safety class.

The coupon expires Aug. 30, but don’t let that stop you, because a class is scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Eastern Area Agency on Aging, 450 Essex St. The coupon must be presented at the beginning of the class to be redeemed.

Not a retired teacher? Not a problem. The AARP Driver Safety Class is open to anyone who would like to take it. The fee is $14, but AARP members receive a small discount.

Participants will focus on safe driving strategies designed to help avoid a potentially damaging accident. You’ll be encouraged to look at your driving habits while reinforcing the good ones, consider some new one habits, and increase awareness of changes in the roads, cars and even yourself.

Some of the advice may sound pretty basic, but ask yourself: When was the last time the inside of the car windows was cleaned? A hazy film can build up, obstructing visibility.

Do you know how to adjust your side-view mirrors to best eliminate blind spots? Where do accidents occur most frequently? Answers to these questions and others will be provided in class. Plus, there is no exam to worry about.

Along with suggestions on how to navigate difficult traffic situations, you’ll learn about potential trouble spots for drivers, parking lots where cars may be coming from numerous directions, how to handle a blind spot, and how to protect yourself from car crime.

Then there are issues such as being confronted by an aggressive driver, backing up, skidding and ways to compensate for physical limitations of the older driver.

Aging is associated with changes in eyesight, including the narrowing of peripheral vision, an inability to see in darkness and sensitivity to glare. Hearing loss and muscle stiffness can prevent sudden movement and lengthen response time. Medication

interaction can present problems also, sometimes causing adverse actions.

According to AARP, this class also will help you:

• Tune up your driving skills and update your knowledge of the rules of the road.

• Learn about normal age-related physical changes, and how to adjust your driving to allow for these changes.

• Reduce your traffic violations, crashes and chances for injuries.

• Drive more safely.

In class, seat-belt myths will be debunked, and you’ll learn what to do if threatened with a head-on crash. You’ll become acquainted with the important 3-second rule which should be practiced regularly. Following another vehicle too closely is dangerous and is akin to asking for an accident.

At the end of class, everyone will receive a certificate that entitles people 55 and older who have a good driving record to receive a discount on automobile insurance that is good for three years. The amount of the discount varies, so check with your own insurance company.

There is a 30-minute lunch break built into the session, so pack a brown bag with all your favorites, including beverage. Water will be available.

To register for the AARP Safety class, call EAAA at 941-2865 or 800-432-7812. If you are a member of the National Retired Teachers Association, remember to bring your coupon. Space is limited, so call soon.

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It is property tax and rent refund time. Volunteers will be stationed at Eastern Area Agency on Aging to help with application forms. Call us to schedule an appointment.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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