Safety Course Helps Senior Drivers

Safety Course Helps Senior Drivers

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Kim Johnson reportingDriving is a privilege Americans hold dear. But is there a time to turn in the license?

Kim Johnson visited one man who is trying to help older drivers realize when that time is.

Ken Baldridge, 77, has been driving for more than 60 years. These days this retired college professor volunteers his time to help other people his age drive safely.

Baldridge oversees AARP's driver safety program, and teaches senior drivers how to drive defensively and how to cope with road rage.

He refreshes them on the rules of the road, pointing out that right of way, and left turn situations get a lot of senior drivers into trouble.

Ken Baldridge/ AARP Driver Safety Coordinator: "We don't like to admit it, but we have to recognize that per miles driven, seniors experience more crashes than any other age group except the younger drivers."

And sometimes the results are tragic, as they were when an elderly man in California became confused and crashed into a market place in Santa Monica. Ten people were killed.

Besides confusion, Baldridge says senior drivers' vision, hearing and reaction time aren't as sharp as they once were, so he tries to teach them to compensate.

Ken Baldridge: "In other words, when they approach an intersection they look left, then they look right, then they look left again to make sure no one has come up on them since the last time."

Baldridge estimates there are tens of thousands of older drivers in Utah still on the road. Those who take his class are counseled to avoid freeways and roads during rush hour, to avoid being on them at night as well, and ultimately to know when it's time to trade car keys in for a bus pass.

Baldridge says he can only imagine the trauma experienced by those whose driving days are done. Better that trauma, he says, than that of causing a fatal accident.

Ken Baldridge: "I'll have to quit someday. It'll tear me apart, I'm sure. But I hope I have the good sense to know when that time is."

Senior drivers can get discounts on their insurance by taking driver safety courses.

For more information call the AARP toll free at 1-888-227-7669, or log on to their web site.

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