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Vitality: Brush up on your driving skills

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By Andrea Brown, Herald Writer
The first car your drove is now an antique roadster -- and are you?
The rules of the road have changed since you got your driver's license 40 or 60 years ago.
There are daunting double turn lanes, head-spinning roundabouts and a bundle of distracting electronic devices at your fingertips.
Maybe it's time for a refresher course. It might even save you money on your car insurance.
The AARP Driver Safety course is available in senior centers and other classrooms as well as online.
The one-day class covers everything you need to know but are afraid to ask. Topics include normal aging changes in vision and hearing. Lane changing. Backing up. Left turns. Right-of-way driving. Anti-lock brakes. Airbags. GPS. Glasses. Sunglasses.
Yes, sunglasses. These can do more than make you look cool while driving.
The class also covers warning signs of unsafe driving and how to talk to a loved one about driving retirement.
The class is geared to drivers age 50 and older, but open to people of all ages. There are no tests to pass.
The classroom course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. To locate a classroom course, got to findacourse or call 888-227-7669). For more information, see
One class is scheduled for May 21 at the Carl Gipson Senior Center, 3025 Lombard Ave., Everett. Call 425-257-8780 to register.
Traffic violations for drivers 55 and over
  • Failure to yield the proper right-of-way: 35 percent.
  • Improper left turn: 25 percent.
  • Improper lane change: 15 percent
  • Ignoring a stop sign or traffic light: 10 percent
  • Miscellaneous violations: 15 percent.
Source: and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Are you smarter than a 16-year-old? Take the AARP Driver Safety quiz (*Answers at the end, but don't peek.):
1. Imagine that your steering wheel is the face of a clock. Where on the wheel should your hands be positioned while driving?
A. At 7 and 3 o'clock or 8 and 4 o'clock
B. At 8 and 4 o'clock or 9 and 3 o'clock
C. At 9 and 3 o'clock or 10 and 2 o'clock
D. At 10 and 2 o'clock or 11 and 3 o'clock
2. How much room should there be between your chest and the steering wheel?
A. Less than 6 inches
B. 6 to 8 inches
C. 8 to 10 inches
D. 10 to 12 inches
3. When driving, how much distance should you keep between your car and the vehicle in front of you?
A. You should remain at least 3 feet behind the car you are following
B. You should remain 3 car lengths behind the car you are following
C. You should remain 3 seconds or more behind the car you are following
D. You should remain 30 seconds behind the car you are following
4. While waiting to turn left at an intersection, your wheels should be pointed …
A. Straight
B. Left
C. Right
D. It doesn't matter
5.Which of the following is a false statement about making a left-hand turn at an intersection?
A. Your eyes should be focused solely on the traffic ahead of you.
B. Wait for a large gap in oncoming traffic and allow enough time to safely turn.
C. Turn into the nearest lane of traffic going in your direction, or into the proper lane as indicated by traffic signals and lane markings
D. On city streets, three right turns may be used to replace one left turn across traffic
6. Which of the following is a false statement about blind spots?
A. The best way to compensate for blind spots is to turn your head and glance over each shoulder before making a lane change
B. The larger the vehicle, the smaller the blind spots
C. No matter what kind of car you have, or how well adjusted your mirrors are, you will always have blind spots
D. Neck or shoulder stiffness can prevent you from being able to see blind spots
7. At what age does vision start to change in ways that affect driving?
A. 30
B. 40
C. 50
D. 60
8. Older drivers are typically safe, cautious drivers, but they're not perfect. What is the most common traffic violation committed by drivers age 55+?
A. Failure to yield the right-of-way
B. Making an improper left turn
C. Making an improper lane change
D. Ignoring a stop sign or traffic light
9. Which of the following is a true statement about driving in bad weather?
A. The car's interior lights should be turned on so other drivers can see your vehicle more easily.
B. Wearing polarized sunglasses during a heavy downpour can improve visibility.
C. You should drive with your high beams on until the weather improves.
D. You should keep up with the posted speed limit and activate your hazard lights.
10. History question! When was the first seat belt law introduced in the U.S.?
A. 1972
B. 1976
C. 1984
D. 1987
*Answers: 1-B; 2-D; 3-C; 4-A; 5-A; 6-B; 7-B; 8-A; 9-B; 10-C
7. At what age does vision start to change in ways that affect driving?
A. 30
B. 40
C. 50
D. 60
Story tags » EverettSenior activitiesElderly

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