HITTING THE ROADS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? CONSIDER A SAFETY COURSE FOR SENIOR DRIVE by Richard Chace
10/29/2016 at 07:16
Snowbirds seeking warmer climates, seasonal shopping and day trips and holiday travel all add up to extra mileage for many seniors during the holiday season. Add in the challenges of inclement weather, decreased daylight hours and increased traffic, driving during the winter can be especially difficult for drivers of all ages to navigate safely. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), approximately 15 percent (3,637,160) of the 2015 licensed drivers in California are 65 or older. Of course, older drivers aren’t the only ones hitting the roads but as we age, many older adults may be faced with additional physical and mental conditions that affect the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Many people 65 years and older prefer to maintain their independence for as long as possible and will voluntarily change their driving habits as they age, including only driving during daylight hours, limiting where they drive and decreasing the frequency and distance of their driving. However, the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System reported “24,227 drivers aged 65 or older were involved in fatal or injury collisions in California in 2013. Of those collisions, 233 older drivers were at fault in fatal collisions and 11,788 older drivers were at fault in injury collisions.”
There is no upper age limit for maintaining a driver’s license in California and CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow notes, “drivers age 65 and older may have a better overall safety record than other age groups, but they often face challenges with continued mobility. Holiday gatherings can be a good time to discuss how older drivers can stay safe behind the wheel. Since this can sometimes be a difficult conversation, the CHP has created a program that may help." The Age Well, Drive Smart program is a free two-hour class offered at local CHP offices, as well as through many senior centers. To help seniors evaluate and improve their driving skills, the CHP program topics include:
• How to tune up your driving skills • Refresh your knowledge of the rules of the road • Learn about normal, age-related physical changes and how to adjust to them • When it may be time to limit or stop driving. • Understand the alternatives to driving
AARP also offers a course specifically designed for drivers age 50 and older. Successful completion of the AARP Smart Driver™ online course may also qualify participants for a multi-year discount on their auto insurance premium, depending upon their state and auto insurance company.
There may be a fee to take the course but AARP members receive a discount. If you prefer an in-person learning experience, contact AARP to find out if any classroom courses will be offered in your area. If you enroll in the online course, you’ll have 60 days to complete it. The AARP Smart Driver course uses an easy-to-follow format incorporating adult-learning principles and includes the following topics:
• Research-based safe driving strategies • Information on the effects of medication on driving • Preventive measures to reduce driver distractions • Proper use of safety belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and new technology found in cars today • Techniques for handling left turns, right-of-way, and roundabouts • State-specific rules and regulations in 19 key areas, including construction zones, child safety seats, school buses, cellphone use and more
So why not refresh your driving skills and improve your ability to live independently. You’ll also reduce your chances of receiving a traffic violation or getting into an accident. Sounds like a win – win to us!
If you or a family member is no longer able to live independently and would like to learn about assisted living services and facilities within California, please contact CalRegistry to discuss options customized for your family.
To attend a free Age Well, Drive Smart class, please visit CHP.ca.gov and contact your local CHP office.