Seniors for Safe Driving program set at Northern Tier Library - PineCreek Journal

Seniors for Safe Driving program set at Northern Tier Library

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Safe driving can be a taxing and stressful endeavor for anyone, but seniors face additional challenges behind the wheel as they age.

An upcoming program at Northern Tier Regional Library aims to help seniors recognize how aging affects them while driving, brush up on their skills and ensure they remain safe, confident and competent on the road for years to come, as well as get a discount on their auto insurance.

The Butler-based Seniors for Safe Driving program boils down to three key areas, office manager Desiree Simpson said.

“One is understanding that the normal aging process we’re all going to go through causes us to make compensations when we’re driving,” she said. “Our recovery time will increase and our reaction time will decrease and we’ll have some physical limitations, so we’ll have to make compensations and that’s OK, that’s normal.”

The second area is what Simpson calls “good habits gone bad,” which includes how safe practices that were taught to new drivers even 20 years ago no longer apply with today’s vehicles. One example, she said, is holding one’s hands at “10 and 2” on the steering wheel, which used to be the safe standard. With airbags, however, drivers are now trained to hold their hands at “4 and 8,” and instead of crossing hand-over-hand to turn they are taught the “push-pull” method while keeping the hands at 4 and 8 for the same reason. Another example is that with anti-lock brakes, drivers are no longer instructed to pump the brakes when they hit slick spots as they were in the past.

The third aspect deals more with general rules and safety in traffic, including strategies for recognizing and avoiding distracted drivers and how to handle aggressive drivers and even road rage.

“We will discuss risk, and that is a risk you’re going to encounter that you don’t have any control over,” Simpson said. “It’s important for seniors to know that there’s nothing they’ve done to cause that road rage; they are not at fault and not to blame. When that person has that rage in that moment, it usually boils down to they haven’t managed their time correctly, they’re in a hurry and you are an obstacle. Nine times out of 10, if they simply get over to another lane or pull over at a safe spot and let them pass, you’re in the clear. They’ll go on their way, and you’ll be safe.”

The entire session takes place in the classroom, Simpson said, with no driving and no tests. They also don’t report anything to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, she said, so anyone who fears how taking the class might affect keeping their driver’s license needn’t worry.

Class participants will receive a certificate, however, that when presented to their car insurance company will get them a minimum of a five-percent discount on their rate for the next three years.

“This is just a nice social activity where you’re going to learn some things and come out a more competent, safe driver when the seminar is over,” she said. “In addition to all that you’ll get a discount on your auto insurance, and that’s mandated by Pennsylvania law.”