Sadie Says…

Answers to frequently asked questions about safe driving

Q: “My friend’s driving skills have deteriorated considerably in the last year, but her family thinks she is still OK to drive.  What determines an unsafe driver and what can be done about it?”

A:     Concerned about someone’s driving?

An unsafe driver is someone who: has a series of minor crashes or near misses; has wandering thoughts or is unable to concentrate; is unable to read ordinary road signs; gets lost on unfamiliar roads; is frequently honked at/headlights flashed by  other drivers; has difficulty judging distance; drives too slowly; accidentally hits the gas pedal instead of the brake; violates traffic rules; or has been spoken to about their driving by police, family or friends.

Age alone is not a factor for identifying unsafe driving; however, safe driving skills may be more difficult for an older driver.

You may want to encourage your friend to take a Driver Refresher Course.

Pennsylvania has resources:

• AAA, www.aaa.com.

• AARP, 1-888-227-7669, www.aarp ­driversafety.org

Driver Refresher Courses are state-approved, classroom training for older drivers; course fees are moderate successful participants can receive a discount on their car insurance.

Your friend also could consider a rehabilitation driving program, which consists of training and driver skills evaluation, available through rehabilitation centers.

Another possible option is CarFit, a program developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AARP, AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association.  CarFit is a quick comprehensive check on how you and your vehicle “fit” together. For more information, visit www.car-fit.org.

Sometimes driver education and technical adjustments for age-related changes are not enough.

The brochure “Concerned About Someone’s Driving?” provides additional information, including how to report an unsafe driver and local resources available for someone who is unable to drive. For a free copy, contact the Community Traffic Safety Project at comphwy@chilitech.net  or call 570-433-0820.

Nov. 20-Dec. 4, 2016, is the “Click It or Ticket” mobilization. Seat belts, worn correctly, are even more effective for older occupants. The reason?

The older a person gets, the greater the chance they’ll be involved in a crash, the greater risk of more severe injury or death from the crash, the longer the hospital stay, the longer the recovery time and the less the chance of recovery.

Seat belts increase your chance of survival and reduce the severity of injury.

So buckle up.  Every one.  Every thing.  Every time.

Sadie Says … is brought to you by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition’s Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.