Rules of the Road: Senior drivers

6:14 PM, Apr 13, 2011   |    comments
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Senior drivers are the fastest growing group of people behind the wheel these days. There are some things every driver needs to know about keeping mature drivers safe on the road and making the tough choice about when to stop driving.

"I'm looking out for other people on the road now as a senior driver, and I'm giving myself a lot more cushion and distance from other vehicles," said senior driver, Ed Langston.

Langston, 71, said he noticed his reaction time slowing down and eye sight declining a few years ago. He uses his first-hand experience as a senior driver to teach road safety to mature drivers for the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The AAA recommends that seniors, and their families, understand driver's safety, knowing when to stop, and know what to do next.

"Not everybody has the same problems at the same time," said AAA spokesperson, Don Lindsey.

They also recommend senior drivers pay attention to their vision and hearing, and stay active since driving is physical.

"The stronger we are, then little things, like a little arthritic pain, won't necessarily slow us down," said Lindsey.

Lindsey and Langston said there are some clues that will let senior drivers and their families know it is time to stop. Those include, little accidents or crashes, tickets, or getting lost on familiar roads.

Making the decision to stop is often sensitive for mature drivers. Lindsey said families should work with senior drivers to make the decision.  He also said it is sometimes more effective for families to work with friends, doctors, or pastors to help their loved ones realize it might be time to get off the road.

Once that decision is made, there are a number of options for alternative transportation.  The City of Knoxville offers rides on mini-busses through KAT.  The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) offers sliding-scale mini-bus rides too. 

The Office on Aging, through the CAC, offers free rides in handicapped accessible mini-vans and fuel efficient cars.

"We pick them up at their home and get them to the car, and get them to their appointments," said volunteer driver, Barbara DeLisio.

Langston said he knows there might come a time when he needs a pick up and can no longer drive.

"Given the amount of planning with family and with friends, I'll be able to do it, but I won't like it," said Langson.

For more information about rides through the Office on Aging, or to volunteer as a driver, check out their website.

For more information about mature driver's safety courses offered through the AAA, check out their website.

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