Mature Driving' course helps older people sharpen skills

'55 ALIVE

April 14, 1994|By MICHELLE HOFFMAN

"Seniors, meaning those 55 and older, have less accidents than the other age groups," said Jerre Musser. "But, if you took the number of miles everybody drove, seniors would have more accidents; they just don't drive as many miles."

Mrs. Musser knows this because she is the Carroll County instructor for the "55 ALIVE Mature Driving" course developed by the American Association of Retired Persons.

Herself a senior citizen, Mrs. Musser has taught the course to fellow Carroll County residents over the age of 50 for the past three years. She will again be offering the course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 25 and 26 at the Westminster Elks Lodge on Gorsuch Road.

For a nonrefundable nominal fee of $8, you may attend the two-day class. Attendance both days is required to receive a completion certificate. Upon completion, you will be eligible to receive a discount on liability insurance as well.

According to Horace Deets, executive director of AARP, "55 ALIVE is the first and most recognized comprehensive nationwide course designed especially for the older driver. It takes into consideration physical changes and advances in education curriculum which enables drivers to compensate for those changes."

The text for the class is included in the $8 fee. It presents facts in statement form, multiple-choice questions, diagrams and picture scenarios.

The book is divided into six "sessions." Session 2, for example, deals with visual and hearing changes on the older adult, and how these changes relate to a senior's reaction time when faced with daily as well as potentially dangerous driving situations.

The goal of the program is to impress upon students that they should be able to "act rather than react," according to Mrs. Musser.

In Session 3, there are blanked-out shapes of traffic signs to be identified. The students are asked to memorize each sign so they can anticipate oncoming traffic changes before they reach the sign to read it.

(I found that, although I see these signs every day while driving, I was able to immediately identify only two of them.)

Mrs. Musser said the seniors who have studied these signs have had a marked improvement in their driving because they know what to expect ahead. She cautions students, however, that if they do not feel comfortable with highway driving, they should continue to take alternate routes where traffic patterns are less confusing.

Mrs. Musser said she has learned a great deal from teaching this course. She quoted from Session 4: "More than 80 percent of all accidents occur at speeds less than 40 mph. Fatalities involving nonbelted occupants of cars have been recorded at as low as 12 mph."

She observed, "That's about the speed you'd be driving in a parking lot."

She also learned that, whether you are driving a rear-wheel-drive car or a front-wheel-drive car in icy or wet conditions, "You always turn with the skid, and steer in the direction the rear end of the car is skidding. This information comes from General Motors research."

You don't necessarily have to have a driving problem to take this course. It is designed to renew driving knowledge.

The "55 ALIVE Mature Driving" course is taught in the classroom. There are no tests and there is no actual driving involved. The class is taught from a colorful text, and the sessions are thought provoking.

Mrs. Musser said she enjoys the lively class discussions.

If you are interested in taking the "55 ALIVE Mature Driving" course, you may reach Mrs. Musser at 756-2224. She will send you a reservation form to fill out and attach your check as payment for the class.

*

There will be an open meeting of the Silver Fancy Garden Club at 1 p.m. April 21, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Taneytown.

The topic is "How To Have An Enchanted Iris Garden."

The lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Information: 756-6825.

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