Today’s active seniors hit the roadways to travel both short and long distances. Keeping their driving privileges is a top priority for many of these seniors, who want to stay independent for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, according to a 2016 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “[m]ultiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 40 percent of fatal crash involvements among drivers 80 and older, compared with 20 percent for drivers ages 16-59.”1 This is a frightening statistic, but you have the power to change it.
Driver improvement courses are a smart choice for seniors who want to sharpen their driving skills and stay safe on the road.2
The Benefits of Driver Improvement Courses for Seniors
Also known as safe driving courses, driver improvement courses are designed to bolster behind-the-wheel skills and make our roads safer.
Many organizations offer driving courses tailored specifically to seniors. Taking one of these refreshers is a great way to protect yourself and other drivers on the road too. Such courses boast several big benefits for drivers past retirement age.
Knowledge of How Medications Affect Driving
It’s no secret that driving impaired can cause deadly accidents. When it comes to driving under the influence, though, it’s not just alcohol and recreational drugs that you need to worry about. Prescription medications also play a factor in many car accidents. That’s because prescription drugs can impair your reaction time, judgment, and vision.
In fact, individuals who are over 65 make up only 12 percent of the American population, but they account for 34 percent of all prescription medication use and 30 percent of over-the-counter medication use. Many experts have pointed to these statistics as an indication that the elderly tend to be overmedicated. It’s essential to evaluate how medications you take might affect your driving.3
You’ll receive valuable information in a safe driving course that will help you understand what medications do and don’t mix well with driving. You should also review the information pamphlets that came with any medications you use regularly. Some medications have special warnings that you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking them.4
So, take time to talk with your doctor about how it might affect your driving when you start a new medication.
Potential Insurance Discounts
Insurance companies, senior-interest organizations, and public safety departments all offer safe driving courses.
Completing a driving improvement course can be a great way for seniors to qualify for policy discounts too. Ask your insurance agent if you’ll qualify for a discount if you take a senior driving course. Be sure to clarify if there are specific senior driving courses that are approved by your insurance.
When it comes to taking the course, you may have both in-person and online options. Try to attend an in-person course if possible. You’ll have better opportunities to ask the instructor questions about your specific driving concerns.
Better Understanding of Vehicle Features
When you first got your vehicle, you likely poured over its manual to learn about all the safety and comfort features included. As time has passed, you’ve probably forgotten about a few of these features. A driver improvement course is the perfect place to get a refresher on standard vehicle safety features. You’ll be reminded of when and how to use a variety of vehicle systems including all-wheel braking systems and traction control.
You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about safety features to look for when purchasing or leasing a new vehicle. This is valuable information if you haven’t purchased in a few years and don’t know what new features manufacturers are offering.5
Greater Control Over Comfort and Safety
It’s probably been a few years since you took a driving test. There are many road rules designed to keep you safe that are easy to forget. You’ll get a refresher on these essential rules and safety tips during a driver improvement course. Such courses also offer an opportunity to ask driving safety questions that you might be too embarrassed to ask family or friends.
Comfort is also important when you’re behind the wheel. If you’re not comfortable, you may find yourself squirming and adjusting vehicle settings. Trying to get comfortable while driving tends to distract you from the road, which can lead to serious accidents. In fact, distracted driving caused 10 percent of fatal car crashes in 2015.6 You’ll get valuable comfort tips during your refresher course that will help you stay safe.
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Safety should be your first priority any time you get in your vehicle.
Consider taking a driver improvement course designed to bolster your behind-the-wheel skills. Senior citizens, in particular, benefit from these courses, which provide valuable tools and information that will keep you safe on the road. No matter how you rate your driving skills, taking one of these courses is a smart decision.