Senior Scene October 3,2016

“I’ve been driving for a long time. Why should I take a driving course now?” It is a question that is frequently asked when you mention driver refresher training. Self-awareness is an important tool in helping determine whether or not a mature driver is posing a risk to himself/herself or others when behind the wheel.

The length of time that a senior can have mobility by driving can be extended through mature-driver training such as Canada Safety Council’s 55 Alive: Driver Refresher Course. Independence through driving can continue to be a viable and safe option for many seniors, with certain adjustments both to the car and with the senior’s driving habits. Driving qualities that mature drivers must assess are: vision, physical strength and agility, alertness and reflexes.

Good vision is a major factor when minimizing risk. It is recommended to avoid driving at dawn, dusk and night time. This is a time when it is difficult to clearly see pedestrians, lane lines or other important traffic signs or markings. The glare from oncoming headlights is also a challenge for drivers but especially if you experience light-sensitivity. Keep up with your eye examinations and visit an eye doctor annually.

Good physical strength and agility contribute to safe driving. This would enhance the capacity to shoulder check when changing lanes or look both ways for traffic at intersections. The movement required for using the foot pedals or turning the steering wheel also requires fitness and agility.

Alertness and reflexes also contribute to proper attention and reaction while driving. Driving involves multi-tasking and your attention is divided into many priorities. Pay special attention at intersections and try to make left turns at intersections that provide a green arrow advancement signal. Scan the road ahead continuously and avoid rush hour traffic. It helps to keep alert if you limit passenger conversation in the car and keep your radio off.

Even if you haven’t been involved in a collision in 40 years, it may be time to review your driving skills. With aging, changes occur in hearing, vision, flexibility and reaction time. You can learn to adjust your skills to compensate for those changes. Do any of these situations bother you?

  • Entering or exiting a highway
  • Changing lanes on the highway
  • Passing
  • Parking
  • Left Turns
  • Yielding the right of way
  • Night driving
  • Winter driving
  • The frustrations of today’s complicated traffic environment

If so, you will benefit from taking the 55 Alive Driver Refresher course.

The 55 Alive Driver Refresher course is designed to help Canadians 55 years and over to maintain their independence and their driving privileges. It will help you:

  • Gain more confidence behind the wheel
  • Improve your awareness of traffic hazards
  • Update yourself on traffic laws and new technology
  • Anticipate the actions of other drivers
  • Identify and correct bad driving habits
  • Voice your concerns in a friendly, relaxed environment

On November 4th, Community Care for South Hastings will be hosting a 55 Alive Driver Refresher training course with certified instructor, Dave Short.  The course runs from 9 am to 4 pm and the fee of $35 includes your workbook, certificate and lunch.  Call 613-969-0130 to register.  A former participant says: “Driving helps me keep my independence – 55 Alive helps me protect it.”