What’s old isn’t always new again, especially when it comes to “older drivers’” skills. We over-50s are labeled with that singular designation, along with its own sobering statistics, like these:
- In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,560 people over the age of 65 died, and 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. That’s a 3 percent increase in the number of fatalities and a 16 percent increase in the number of injuries from 2011.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
- One-third of all fatal crashes involving older Americans occur at intersections
- 35 percent of all traffic violations involving drivers 55+ are because of the failure to yield the proper right-of-way
- One in four traffic violations involving drivers 55+ involves making an improper left turn
- 15 percent involved an improper lane change
- 10 percent are the result of ignoring a stop sign or traffic light
We don’t have to focus on the negatives here, for there’s some excellent help to improve older driver safety.
Stay on course (this one)
If you need a little help “refreshing” your driving skills or you think an elderly parent or friend does, check out AARP’s new version of its Smart Driver™ Course. You can attend a class in all 50 states or online.
“The driving experience today is significantly different from even a decade ago—changing vehicles, changing technology, changing road rules, and even changing roadways,” said Julie E. Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety.
The course debuted in 1979, and in its newest iteration includes training for roundabouts, pavement markings, stop-sign compliance, and safety issues such as speeding, seatbelt and turn signal use.
Know your limits
Participants of the new course will also learn how aging, medications, alcohol, and other health-related issues affect driving ability, and how to adjust their driving accordingly to allow for these changes, said Lee. The course also helps participants determine when it may not be best to drive, like late at night, in inclement weather and more, and how to plan for a time when driving is no longer an option.
Go online to find out where to attend in person, or how to take the course online. Cost is minimal: $17.95 for members and $21.95 for non-members. Ask your insurance company if you qualify for a discount as a result of taking the course. Also, don’t miss this comprehensive Driving Resource Center with interactive driving simulations, exercises, screening tools and more. It’s fun and it may save your life.
Remember that like other things that occur as years go by, you may not notice your skills have declined. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry. Do your part to improve older driver safety.
Happy, safe driving. And “before you go,” check out this great animated video, What Does Driving Give You?. (Hey: My freedom!)