Class to help older drivers |

Class to help older drivers

Brent Boyer

Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and, sensing the danger, it will jump out immediately.

Put a frog in a pot of cool water that is gradually warmed to its boiling point and the frog — complacent and content — will die.

There are similarities between that frog and aging humans, Bud Romberg said.

“I think that’s the way it is with most people as they age,” he said. “The changes occur slowly enough where you don’t wake up early one morning and say, ‘Geez, I can’t see or I can’t hear or my reaction time is slow.'”

But those changes do occur, especially after the age of 55. Vision and hearing decrease, and reaction time increases, gradually enough that people oftendon’t realize how significant the changes are.

Those gradual changes can be magnified when older people get behind the wheel of an automobile, and statistics show an increased rate of accidents per miles driven once drivers reach the age of 55.

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A local class taught by Romberg and his wife, Jane, aims to help older drivers compensate for the effects of aging as well as re-educate them on basic driving techniques such as changing lanes, yielding to the right of way and merging onto and off of highways.

The AARP Driver Safety Program has been offered locally for more than a decade, and Romberg estimates 1,000 Routt County residents have taken advantage of the $10, eight-hour course.

“It seems to be a positive experience both socially and educationally,” Romberg said. “The thing that makes the class come alive is when people take part in it.”

The class, which typically is offered locally three times a year, will next take place May 11 and 12 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Anyone 50 years old or older can participate, and AARP membership isn’t necessary.

The class is broken down into two four-hour sessions, one on the afternoon of May 11 and the other on the morning of May 12.

Among the topics to be covered are vision and hearing changes, effects of medication, reaction time changes, new driving laws and hazardous driving situations.

An added bonus for class participants is that state law mandates insurance agencies provide discounts to people 55 and older who complete the course. The course completion certificate is valid for three years, during which time drivers are eligible to receive annual insurance discounts. The Rombergs save $152 a year because of the program.

For more information or to register for the AARP Driver Safety Program, call Routt County Council on Aging Program Director Shelly Orrell at 879-0633.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

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