DBRL Hosts Workshops to Educate Elderly About Driving Changes

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COLUMBIA - Daniel Boone Regional Library hosted an American Association of Retired People (AARP) workshop Tuesday aimed at helping educate eldery people on safe driving.

This activity falls during "Operation Safe Driver Week."  The Missouri Department of Transportation are especially watching aggressive motorists and unsafe truck drivers this week.

Those participating in the workshop learned how to cope with various driving challenges they may face as they get older. These include changes in vision, hearing and reaction time, how medications may affect driving and what to do if confronted with an aggressive driver.

Course instructor and AARP Regional State Driving Coordinator Harry Kennedy said the wants to educate participants on the changes in driving practices since most people attending the course first received their license 40, 50 or 60 years ago.

"The roadways have changed, the automobiles have changed, and most certainly their physical conditions have changed," Kennedy said. "We try to address those issues and bring those issues to mind not telling them particularly what they have to do but giving them ideas and thoughts of what they can do to adjust their driving to make themselves more safe, their passengers more safe, and other road users more safe.

When asked how they feel about driving today, many participants responded to feeling many of the similar anxieties as they experienced while first learning to drive. 

Kennedy stressed that driving is a right, not a privilege and there is no magic age when drivers become unable to drive. He told participants they must be able to recognize when they are safe to drive. He said most people come to the course looking to make tweaks in their driving.

"The biggest thing most people ask is, 'how can I adjust my driving to adjust to my aging factors?'" Kennedy said. "We show them simple things by perhaps using a different route to get to where they want to go where there's less traffic, or to limit driving to the time of day when the sun isn't brightest, or simply adjusting their mirrors."

AARP Drive Safe courses are open to people of all ages and AARP membership is not required. Kennedy said the tips he teaches in the workshops should be remembered by all.

"Safety on the raodway today is everybody's consideration, we had the lowest death fatality rate last year since the '50's and this year we're seeing that number rise," Kennedy said. "So highway safety is everyone's responsibility."

Participants received a certificate at the end of the course and may now be eligible for insurance discounts for taking workshop. AARP will hold another safe driving course Nov.14 at the Lenoir Center in Columbia.