DRIVERS EDUCATION Seniors keep up with changes in bodies and laws

The 55 Alive course teaches older drivers some new tips.
WARREN -- Never stop learning, goes the educator's adage.
With their 55 Alive Driver Safety program, the American Association of Retired Persons applies that philosophy in a different way: A refresher course on driving for those 50 and older.
About 10 people attended one 55 Alive course Tuesday at Trumbull Mobile Meals in the YMCA building. The four-hour session taught by Dr. Bernard Shultz, a retired dentist, and his wife, Louise, focused on what effects aging has on drivers, how to deal with incidents of road rage and even how to determine when you should stop driving.
"There's always information people haven't thought about," Mrs. Schultz said. "This course gives you a lot of things to prepare you to drive -- it's more than just getting in your car."
For instance, she said, seniors should try to make right turns instead of left turns whenever possible, due to better perception in a right-hand turn.
"Many more accidents happen on left-hand turns," she said.
Impressed: The Schultzes decided to teach the 55 Alive classes after taking one themselves.
"We were so impressed with the course," Mrs. Schultz said. "We thought it was something we could do -- and it's important to do for seniors."
Many of this week's students agree.
"Because of forgetfulness on our part -- everybody's part, regardless of age," Robert Ungard of Parkman chuckled, then sobered. "And because of changing road rules and our changing bodies, I would recommend that this instruction be required for those that are 60 plus.
"This benefits my personal bodily protection -- I'm selfish about that."
Besides, he added, it's fun to spend time with people your own age.
"I felt it was something I needed to do," Helen Bobosh of Warren said. "Something I wanted to do."
She and her husband, Vlad, both agreed that the most important part of the class was the update on today's traffic rules and regulations.
New technology: "When we learned, the technology was all different," Claudia Gow of Weathersfield added.
She said she and her husband, Ray, have been trying to attend one of the 55 Alive classes for a while, but there was never enough interest for the course to be held.
"Everybody thinks they're excellent drivers," she said. "But let me tell you -- you can learn something from taking this course."
An added incentive is the reduction in rates that some insurance companies offer to seniors who take the course and repeat it every three years, Dr. Schultz said.
Next class: The next 55 Alive class in the area will probably take place in September, he said.
He added that for a couple to take the class, one partner has to be at least 50, though the other could be younger.
"And we just made it," Mrs. Bobosh said with a laugh, brushing a hand through her short white hair.
Her husband just looked at her, then asked "So, which one of us is 50?"

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