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AAA Reminds Older Central New Yorkers Of Driving Resources Heading Into Holiday Season

As Central New Yorkers are traveling more than ever during the holiday season, AAA is reminding everyone it’s also “Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.” Although, seniors are often the most cautious and experienced drivers according to AAA of Central New York Public Relations Director Elizabeth Carey. She says there are signs that should raise some concerns.

"If people realized that maybe, Heaven forbid," Said Carey."They’ve crashed a vehicle or maybe they haven’t had good eyesight or maybe they have different medical conditions like impaired vision, diabetes, seizures or maybe they’re on a certain medication that would hinder their ability to drive.”

According to AAA, older drivers often have issues on the road due to a lack of physical activity. However, Carey says there is a very fixable solution.

“Some of the things that AAA research shows is that daily exercise and stretching can really help you behind the wheel because the older drivers are going to have more flexibility," Carey said. "They’ll be able to turn, to look at the mirrors and they’ll have greater physical strength when it comes to braking and steering the vehicle too.”

AAA also offers professional driving assessments for people who are unsure of their skills. This might result in suggested adjustments to the vehicle’s seat and mirror positioning… or adding hand brakes, rather than taking the keys away. The Owner of Craig’s Driving School in Manlius agrees.

Craig Mahon says sometimes it’s as simple as adding a seat cushion to boost a driver's height to see fully through the windshield. He often is requested to assess older drivers on a one-hour ride to see how they navigate on local highways and in Downtown Syracuse.

"What we’re kinda looking for is older drivers, they’re reaction time and ability to respond might become slower." Mahon said. "Just the physical ability to check their surroundings, they may not have that ability anymore.  We’re looking to see if that’s going to affect the way they drive.  The other thing we’re looking for is to see if they can respond quickly to changes in the driving conditions.  So, I think both of the abilities can decrease in older drivers.”   

Mahon adds the New York State D-M-V has a Driver Re-evaluation Program where concerned citizens, doctor’s or Driver’s Ed instructors like him can submit an online form. It then triggers a mechanism to question if a driver can still be allowed to drive safely. For more information on this topic visit this website.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.