Driving Skills: Is it Time for a Tune-Up?

You have probably been behind the wheel for years and consider yourself an experienced driver with many, many miles under your seatbelt. But it might be a good time to take a driver safety course to review the current rules of the road and defensive driving techniques for today’s driving environment. You can also learn about managing and accommodating common age-related changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time. After completing the course, you will have a greater awareness of driving challenges and a better understanding of how to avoid potential accidents. Both AARP and AAA provide resources for senior adult drivers.

AARP Driver Safety has just launched the new and improved AARP Smart Driver™ course. Designed especially for drivers age 50 and older, the updated curriculum includes a completely new, easy-to-follow format that incorporates adult-learning principles, and features reader-friendly print types, full-color pages, an easy-to-follow format and videos to supplement course content.

The AARP course focuses on areas where older drivers could benefit from additional training, including: roundabouts, pavement markings, stop-sign compliance, red-light running, and safety issues such as speeding, seatbelts, and turn-signal use.  AARP Driver Safety also recently developed an interactive online resource for course participants that features tools and activities, including driving simulations, state-specific rules of the road, and new vehicle technologies. Visit www.aarp.org to learn more.

AAA offers a senior defensive driver program designed to help those aged 55 and older be safer while staying behind the wheel longer. This classroom course teaches experienced drivers how to compensate for changing vision, reflexes, and response time. They also offer web-based courses you can take in your own home that are designed to positively affect driving behavior.

AAA also has a free online tool called Roadwise Rx that provides confidential, individualized feedback about medication side effects and interactions, highlighting how these effects may impact safe driving abilities. They also offer free CarFit clinics, where trained technicians and an occupational therapist can help you find your ideal vehicle “fit” for maximum comfort and safety. Visit http://seniordriving.aaa.com/

In addition to feeling safer operating your vehicle after sharpening your driving skills, your auto insurance company may offer you a discount upon course completion. Shell Point Residents can take the AARP Smart Driver Course and bring their vehicle to a AAA CarFit clinic right on campus through the Academy of Lifelong Learning, an educational initiative for the residents of the retirement community. The Academy provides approximately 90 classes each semester that encompass a well-rounded curriculum of educational opportunities for senior adults. The Academy of Lifelong Learning at Shell Point was named as one of 2008’s most innovative active aging programs by the International Council on Active Aging, an association that supports professionals who develop wellness/fitness facilities and services for age 50-plus adults.