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AARP holds two-day course to benefit older drivers

POSTED: June 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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Turning 16 years old means one thing for most teens — it’s time to take that driving test in hopes of earning the freedom to drive.

But as the years pass, senior drivers might find they want to tune up their driving skills with a driver safety refresher course that could keep them on the road longer.

Don Linnartz, district coordinator for the AARP Driver Safety Program, is holding a two-day driver safety course this week that focuses on changing conditions for older drivers.

The course will be held at the Legacy Shoppe at Lakeshore Mall on Thursday and Friday. It focuses on safe driving techniques beneficial to all drivers, as well as the small adjustments older drivers can make to keep them safer on the roads as their vision and hearing abilities might change.

"We lose some of our depth perception and peripheral vision as we age," Linnartz said. "You may come up to an intersection and not see the car coming up to your left, or especially that motorcycle."

He said senior drivers’ diminishing ability to determine depths can contribute to accidents since the ability to judge the speed of a vehicle and its distance from an intersection can become impaired with age. He said diminishing vision is particularly dangerous at intersections and left turns. Linnartz recommends older drivers acknowledge that they need more reaction time than younger drivers to respond to accidents.

The course also puts alcohol and medical prescription impairments into the context of aging motorists.

Linnartz said the two biggest problems for aging drivers are left turns and failing to yield at an intersection. He said idling at left turns is not only dangerous for drivers, but also wastes gas.

Although the course is designed for older motorists, drivers as young as 16 are invited to participate.

Drivers older than 25 who participate in the course and haven’t received a ticket for a moving violation in three years are eligible for a discount on auto insurance. Linnartz said drivers older than 25 could qualify for 10 percent off on auto insurance.

Linnartz said many AARP Driver Safety Programs are held throughout the year for nonmembers and members of the AARP.

A large portion of the second day is spent discussing when older drivers should consider giving up driving altogether, Linnartz said.

Georgia does not have an age cap for drivers, but the state does require drivers 64 and older to take a vision test at the Department of Driver Services in order to renew their license, he said.

"It’s so important for us as we age to adjust our driving so that we can continue to drive safely as we age," Linnartz said. "Then we can drive safely longer."



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