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Senior Drivers- Part 2 of a Special Report 

Joy Hollowell

Statistics show that an experienced driver at the age of 75 has the same chance of being involved in a collision as an inexperienced driver between the ages of 16 and 24.In Part 2 of her special report, Joy Hollowell introduces us to some seniors doing their part to be safe drivers, and what to do when you believe an older loved one is unsafe on the roads.===========”I don’t drive distances, I don’t go on the Interstate.”For 75 years, Helen Grotten has held a current driver’s liscense. She knows a lot has changed in that time. Precisely why the 91-year old enrolled in this AARP driver safety course.”I’m old and I figure I could stand some refreshing on the rules,” says Helen.Fran Mitchell also saw the benefits of going back to school.”There are some things in here that have changed since we took driver’s ed, so I’m going to do a lot more reading,” says Fran.Seniors in the class say they’re well aware of the stereotypes surrounding seniors.”Oh, she’s going too slow or you know, they don’t belong on the road, that’s typical,” laughs Fran.Dawn Richmond teaches the refresher driving course. “at the completion of the course, they receive a certificate from AARP, and they can bring this to their insurance company and receive up to a 10% discount on their insurance,” says Dawn.Richmond says she’s seeing more and more seniors voluntarily taking themselves off the road.”They’re just understanding their physical changes, and their mental changes and how medication affects their driving, and they want to stay safe,” says Dawn.At the same time, Richmond understands why some older Mainers don’t want to give up their driver’s liscense. “It’s my independence, that’s the key word here, independence. It’s a hard topic to address,” says Dawn.Richmond’s first advice for concerned family members is to have a game plan.”Seniors do not want to depend on their family to get them where they need to go…I truly believe that if a family member is asking your parent to give up driving, they need to make themselves available,” says Dawn.Next says Dawn…”They should bring that family member to the doctor first. And let the doctor talk to the person, after the family member has already briefed the doctor on the issue.”And finally, Richmond suggests giving her a call. she offers private driving evaluations.”I can look at 50 years of driving and I’m not going to expect them to drive the same way as a teenager that I’m putting through my driver ed program…when they lack observation skills, when they do lane changes without checking, when they’re unfamiliar with the area they’ve been driving in for many, many years, that’s my concern,” says Dawn.I asked Dawn if the state take away someone’s driver’s liscense?”yes,” she says, “they will be scheduled for a road test.”>==========Richmond says all drivers have a responsibility to report changes in their medical and physical conditions to the State Department of Motor Vehicles.If you’d like more information on the AARP Driving Safety Course, or to schedule a private driving evaluation, you can call Dawn Richmond at 947-7883.