Driver’s Ed for Older Adults

“A four-wheeled adventure will soon bring you happiness.”

race car

There are now driving programs to educate older adults, to ensure their safety and provide reassurance to loved ones about a senior’s ability to drive. As people age, there are newer issues to take into account while they’re manning a vehicle. Health changes like poor nighttime vision and increased medications can limit driving ability and are addressed in the courses.

I remember when I took driver’s ed training myself. At sixteen, I was a whiz with answering all the driving safety questions on paper. When I did the actual training, though, I was super nervous. I kept thinking about my Atari game, Pole Position, imagining other cars racing down the street beside me. (I already had a little bit of practice with my parents in empty parking lots, but no real road experience.)

During my first drive on the streets, I remember these three things happening:

  • I pulled out of the driveway and immediately panicked. Where were the lines on the asphalt? So I started out driving in the middle of the neighborhood street until my instructor corrected me.
  • I had difficulty gauging the speed of my car, so I kept glancing at the speedometer. The instructor eventually covered the indicator with a piece of paper to make me focus on driving.
  • I went so very slow that people were often passing me by on the road. I was definitely cruising at least 10mph below the speed limit.

At least I didn’t have those huge cones that announced I was a “student driver” to the world. Fortunately, the company had transitioned to more discreet magnets on the sides and rear of their cars that year.

What are your driving education experiences?

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  1. I started driving at 13, out of necessity, (helping out my single mom of four kids) and luckily, never got busted for driving without a license. I attended a high school that didn’t offer Driver’s Ed. so my older cousin showed me how to drive her VW, a stick shift, in a large parking lot. It was a disaster for the first 30 minutes and we both got whiplash.

  2. I think about the archaic training simulations I had in Driver’s Ed back in the 80s. I imagine things are much more high tech today. I’m sure modern driving students would laugh if they saw what I used. Much like my kids laugh when I tell them about Pong. (But you’re probably too young to know what Pong is. Talk about a sad little video game…)

  3. I remember Atari’s Pole position! We are sure dating ourselves. Fortunately, I am better at driving than playing the video game. When I first drove, I kept looking at the white line so I stayed within my lane. That wasn’t a good idea because I never paid attention to what’s ahead of me or my surroundings.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      At least you stayed within the lines! (When I was learning, I was always crooked whenever I tried to park.)

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