Common Sense About Driving

Most of us seniors, at least most of those I know, depend heavily on their cars. For our first retirement home, Donna and I have chosen a rural location – so rural that we can’t call a taxi, since there is no taxi service. Nor can we take a bus anywhere, since there is no public transportation whatsoever. We don’t have Uber either, of course, although personally, I think that an app like Uber might make sense in a rural area, where many seniors need rides and many younger people need extra income.Traffic Chapel Street

If we want to buy groceries, attend a meeting, or get to the doctor’s, we have to drive. Perhaps we didn’t make the wisest decision in moving here, but we love our friendly community and the natural beauty of our Finger Lakes.

We have friends with lovely homes in more densely populated parts of Florida, but their transportation situation doesn’t differ much from ours. They might have bus service on a busy highway blocks away, and they could call a taxi, but practically speaking, whenever they want to go somewhere, they climb behind the wheel and turn the ignition key. The same is true of our senior friends and family in towns and suburbs across the country.

Drive we must, but it’s a constant worry. Wouldn’t it be awful if we had an accident, whether our fault or not, and someone, perhaps a child, were injured or killed? And we have ourselves to consider as well. AAA points out that seniors are safe drivers compared to other age groups, since we tend to buckle our seat belts, observe the speed limit, and not drive drunk; but still, 5,000 of us are killed in car crashes each year.

That’s why Donna and I have signed up for the six hour AAA defensive driving course being offered in Ithaca on September 19. It costs just $36 for AAA members, which will be more than covered by the 10 percent discount we’ll receive on our auto insurance for the next three years. If we had points on our licenses, the course would allow us to have four of them removed.

This course is offered online, but we feel we would benefit from the discipline of the classroom. After we finish, we’ll review the course here at Common Sense for Seniors.  AARP also offers driving courses for seniors, both online and in classes.

In addition, I’ve proposed to Donna that we take the two-day automobile control course at the BMW Performance Driving School in Spartanburg, SC. This course, which is offered in California as well, features braking, cornering, lane changes, and timed slaloms, together with the opportunity to drive the full line of BMW vehicles. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? But the $1,550 tuition seems a little steep, although a one-day course is available for $775.  The Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Colorado also sounds like fun. It focuses on winter driving skills beyond the basics, including accident avoidance, and comes in at just $495.

Readers — has anyone tried either of these schools? It seems to me that there must be more driving schools with tracks out there, where seniors can hone their safety skills and every once in a while gun that sucker around a curve. Do you know of any?

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One thought on “Common Sense About Driving

  1. Richard

    Good advice. I also live in a rural area and rely on my car to get to shopping, appointments, etc. (A bus does go by here but is infrequent). But 3 months ago something totally unexpected changed that. In the middle of the night I had a grand mal seizure. Of course I was rushed to the hospital but after several tests, all they found was some brain changes that were not unusual for my age (69).
    However this has changed things for me because NY law says that you are not supposed to drive for 1 year after a seizure. This can be reduced to 6 months if I have no more seizures and my neurologist agrees that the anti-seizure meds I must take are effective. I am a very active person and in pretty good shape despite having had my colon removed 8 years ago. I’m not overweight and never smoked. Now I must rely on my busy wife, or the infrequent bus to get where I need to go.
    I believe the seizure was brought on by a prescribed narcotic med I was taking that had a warning that seizures were a rare but possible side effect. Also, I was not getting enough sleep, which can also be a contributing factor.

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