Before Winter, Brush Up on Those Driving Skills
Utah News Connection
SALT LAKE CITY — The snow has already flown in some parts of Utah, which is a reminder to brush up on safe-driving skills. AARP Utah offers a four-hour driver safety course. It is intended for people over age 50, although anyone who sits behind the wheel can sign up.
Paulette Welch, AARP Utah state driver safety coordinator, said most older adults have not received any driving instruction since they were teenagers. A lot has changed since then, she points out, from the traffic laws to roads and vehicles. She offers just one example, based on the old rule that likens the steering wheel to a clock face.
"We were all taught when we learned to drive that you should hold the steering wheel at '10' and '2.' That's no longer true, with airbags. It's very important to hold your steering wheel at '8' and '4,' because that's where most of the controls are on the new cars."
Welch says AARP offers the driver safety course online, but the advantage of taking it in person is that the instructor also shows students how to correctly adjust the seats, mirrors and more in their own vehicle, for safety, using AARP's "Car Fit" rules.
Janet Chatwin, of Oakley, Cali., took the course in July. She was surprised at how much new information there is to learn. She now feels "a little bit safer and smarter on the road."
"I would have never done it, but my husband had done it, and he encouraged me to do it. So, I did it to get 15 percent off of my insurance! I ended up, 'Wow! This was wonderful.'"
As Chatwin says, people over age 55 get a 15 percent discount on their car insurance in Utah for taking the driver safety course. The cost of the course ranges from $12 to $20, depending on whether you are an AARP member and whether it is taken online or in person. In November, the course will be free for veterans.
The course also covers personal factors that affect driving ability, such as medications and alcohol; distractions like eating and cell-phone use; and the effects of aging. Welch says it is all about preventing what is known as "inattention blindness."
"How many times have we heard, in reports of crashes, 'That car came out of nowhere!' We all know that's not true. That's what inattention blindness does to us. If we don't pay attention, and we're not looking for things, we just absolutely don't see them."
Information on course locations is available by calling 800-350-7025 or online at aarpdriversafety.org.