May 25, 2018
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AARP safety course important refresher for senior drivers

By Carol Higgins Taylor, Senior Beat

Do you like to drive but just aren’t feeling as sharp as you once were? Does the thought of “distracted drivers” make you more nervous? Well, not to worry. AARP’s Driver Safety course can have you feeling more confident in no time.

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

Then there is the problem of 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. Then there is hearing loss and muscle stiffness, which can prevent sudden movement and lengthen response time. Medication interaction can present problems also, sometimes causing adverse actions to occur.

According to AARP, this class 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.

The class also teaches about seatbelt myths, what to do if threatened with a head-on crash, and the three-second rule which should be practiced regularly. Following too closely is dangerous and is akin to asking for an accident.

Defensive driving is crucial to safety, such as looking both ways before proceeding through a green light. It is a common occurrence for the driver with the red light to sail through it anyway, along with the several cars behind him or her. One must never trust that other drivers will automatically stop just because their light is red.

And don’t assume other drivers agree that it’s your turn to proceed through a four-way stop intersection. Always use caution. One of the biggest mistakes that older drivers make is not yielding the right of way to other cars.

Drivers are reminded to use blinkers when turning and changing lanes. Often, other drivers will be courteous and let them “cut in” if the intent is made clear. Of course, sometimes the other driver won’t be so courteous, so be sure you are actually being waved in before you make your move.

One goal of the class is to make seniors aware of these situations and while this class is opened to anyone, it is specifically tailored to the mature driver, addressing changes that occur from the aging process.

The class makes you aware of the newer safety hazards as the roads have changed significantly over the years. Even the way they are marked has changed what with arrows going every which way. It is all different from decades ago when many seniors learned to drive.

There are no written or road tests in the class, just lots of vital information — some refresher and some focusing on new driving hazards. And driver 55 and older who complete the class will save money on their auto insurance.

The class is extremely helpful and there is a $12 fee for AARP members and $14 for non-members. You must bring your AARP card with you to get the $2 discount.

EAAA is offering this course 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, April 13. If you can’t make this class, another is being offered May 11. Bring your lunch, as a one-hour break is built into the class. If you would like to sign up for this fun and informative class, call EAAA at 800-432-7812. It fills up quickly, so call soon.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at

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