Smart Driver course helps kupuna steer clear of trouble

Kauai seniors, how long ago did you study the Hawaii drivers manual? Forty, 50, 60 years ago? I’ll bet it was when you first applied for your driver’s license. It’s time to refresh your knowledge of our rules of the road and learn the effects of aging on your driving skills. It’s all about change. You changed. Your vehicle changed. Road markings and signals changed. Some traffic laws have changed. Learn about these changes and new strategies for dealing with them.

As we get older, our vision, hearing and flexibility diminish. It is through these senses and ability that we acquire information, process that information, make decisions and execute those decisions. Our ability to judge distances and speed become impaired. Our reaction time is slower. That’s why most traffic accidents involving seniors are in making left turns and right-of-way violations. In recent years, there were several fatal accidents involving Kauai seniors caused by such traffic violations.

AARP’s (American Association of Retired Persons) Smart Driver course can help you become a safer driver. You may even be entitled to substantial savings on your automobile insurance. You need to call your carrier to determine how much because it’s based on the type and amount of coverage you have. Saving money is not the only reason to take this course. It could mean saving your life and the lives of your passengers and others.

Do you know the Three Second Rule and how it keeps you a safe following distance from the car in front of you? Do you know how to adjust your rear-view mirrors to minimize your blind spots? Do you know the proper line of sight over your steering wheel and the distance between your steering wheel and your chest to allow for the deployment of your air bag?

Do you know how to adjust your seat belt and head rest? Do you know the current Hawaii seat belt law? Do you know how ABS (anti-lock breaking system) should be used for emergency stops? Do you understand how to share the road with others, e.g. trucks, buses, motorcyclists and others?

Do you know that “right of way” is something you yield, not claim? Do you know when to stop driving or talk to another person about alternatives to driving? Learn about this and other valuable information that may save you money and lives.

The AARP Smart Driver Course is taught by trained and certified volunteer instructors. They can answer your questions while you participate in this inexpensive, four-hour course. You’ll receive an informative, easy-to-understand handbook and watch videos in which experts clearly explain problems and offer solutions.

If you think you would like to benefit from the AARP Smart Driver Course, call 822-0448 to register. The cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. Beginning April 18, the course is held on the second Saturday of each month at the county Mo‘ikeha Building first-floor conference room (next to motor vehicle registration) from 8 a.m. to noon. It may be one of the best four-hour investments you’ll ever make.

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Jim Jung is a Kauai resident who volunteers with Kauai Hospice, Kauai Museum, teaches ocean safety classes to keiki and driving safety classes to kupuna. He’s also a chaplain for the American Legion and is vice president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association.

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