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Back to school: older drivers
The irony of becoming an older, more experienced driver is that sometimes it means eventually having to go "back to school," so to speak, to learn how to adjust your changing driving abilities to the challenges of operating a motor vehicle.
By some measures, seniors are safe drivers. More than 70% of older drivers wear seat belts, the highest percentage among all driving categories. They receive the fewest moving violations.
But conservative driving behavior isn't always a positive. A large number of elderly driving accidents involve rear-end collisions because seniors tend to drive at or below the speed limit, for instance.
Re-sharpening driving skills
So, one thing driving instructors try to teach older drivers is to speed up every once in a while. That means hitting the gas when merging onto a freeway, or to maneuver out of the way if someone is tailgating.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the primary safety issue facing older drivers is how to adapt driving skills to accommodate aging capabilities and reflexes.
Here's how to go "back to school":
- AARP 55 ALIVE / Mature Driving is the nation's largest classroom driver improvement course for older drivers. The course helps drivers refine skills and develop defensive driving techniques. It is taught in two four-hour sessions spanning two days. In Wisconsin there are hundreds of classes and thousands of graduates. For fact sheets, briefing papers and local course information, call (888)AARP-NOW or visit their Web site.
- AAA (American Automobile Association) Foundation for Traffic Safety has produced a new booklet, How to Help an Older Driver, and a 22-minute video, The Older & Wiser Driver (sold at cost). Call AAA-Wisconsin Public and Government Relations Department at (800)236-1300, extension 2486.
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety - Senior Drivers Website
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Last modified: February 7, 2005
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