Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Senior Safe Driving

In Pennsylvania, people aged 55 and up can get a 5% discount on their auto insurance if they take the Senior Safe Driving course. The class is a two day affair the first time you take it. After that, it is four hours every three years. I attended the refresher last night.

This class was quite different from the earlier one. The people were younger and there were fewer of us. The room setup was also different, two rows of tables as opposed to a room full of rows of chairs. There was quite a bit of give and take this time which made it go a bit faster.

I did learn a few new things about safety belt laws and some statistics. It's interesting that the death rate from accidents among women declines after age 85 while it continues to increase for men. It is much easier for a woman to stop driving voluntarily than a man apparently. Some think the purpose of the class is primarily to scare people out of their cars.

The statistics reminded me of some of my adventures during which I surely had a protector. At 80 mph, the chances of surviving an accident are nil. The teacher kept reminding us that young men are more likely to drive drunk, speed and refuse to wear seat, no, safety belts than young women. Not this girl. I raced around town in high school in our hot Buick Century like a madwoman. There were only three cars in town I couldn't beat.

My wildest adventures were in my '65 TR4A. Unlike most then and even some now, I never went anywhere without my safety belt fastened. People advised against it as I would be crushed if the car rolled over. I knew my car would not roll over. I wanted to be strapped in tightly so I didn't move and could maintain control. I blew a tire one rainy day and did a cookie in the middle of the road in front of a state cop in Ohio. I never left my lane, pulled off to the side and started to get the tools out to change the tire. The cop stopped of course and was surprised to see a female driver. He complimented my on my driving skill but couldn't help with the tire. He didn't know how. Well, it was easy since there was only the center holding it on unlike the four or five bolts most cars have. He just stood there and watched then wished me well and drove away.

I vividly remember bouncing that little car in and out of a ditch one night after an office party while trying to round a country bend at 60 mph or so and wondering how I could be so lucky. Neither I nor my passenger nor the car was damaged. Shudder.

I fairly regularly drove at speeds above 90 mph, especially on I-90 between Conneaut, OH and the PA line. I knew that a rabbit could probably kill me so I watched like crazy. For the cops too.

Had I been born later into different circumstances, I probably would have tried to drive race cars. I still love to be on the road. But I must surely drive my guardian angel crazy. Fortunately I am very aware that I am not as young as I used to be. My reflexes are slower and I'm more easily distracted. And I'm too cheap to risk a speeding ticket. That's all good.


Cany said...

I wish someone WOULD scare my 95yo mom out of her car.

I even asked the police to pull her over every time they see her.

She is still driving.

NO WAY am I taking the car away. This would mean me ending up at the bottom of I don't know which river.


All they REALLY have to do is give her a driver's test. She would fail.

But nooooooo. That would be way too simple.

forsythia said...

Mom had no hope of getting a new license at the age of 90 when she moved to Maryland. She stopped driving around Meadville of her own free will when her eyesight got REALLY bad. On the way to getting REALLY bad, however, she still got behind the wheel. She once admitted, "When I park my car (an ancient Cadillac coupe de ville, a big boat of a car), I'm always surprised to see where it ends up. It's never where I think it should be."