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Over the Hills and Through the Snow (And Rain)

Oregon’s reputation for a soggy climate is strongly related to our winter weather. The National Weather Service reports that 55 percent of Oregon’s annual rainfall occurs between November and February. Add heavy snows in Eastern Oregon and high winds on the Coast and state roadways become a force to be reckoned with.

“Our winters of wind, rain, ice and snow requires drivers of all ages to be especially vigilant,” said Betty-Coe de Broekert, Volunteer Oregon State Coordinator for the AARP Driver Safety Program. “Now’s the ideal time to review safe driving skills and check out the many available programs and resources – like a driving safety refresher or assessment.”

AARP, along with AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) plus other organizations nationwide, has endorsed Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 6-10, to help prevent accidents and save lives, especially this time of year.

“Driving requires a wide range of skills, including movement, attention and vision, that can become more challenging with age. Since active, independent living is an important part of all of our lives, it’s necessary to know our abilities and take precautions to stay safe while driving,” said Lizzie Scanlan, MOTR/L, occupational therapist.

According to AOTA, Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home.

Read tips and learn about other AARP programs, including how to intervene when it’s no longer safe to drive and how to properly fit in your car.

And older Oregon drivers now have a new resource that can help, and potentially save them money too. According to Mary Grosso, Driver Control Program Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV has recently approved AARP’s online driver safety course as an official “Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course” in Oregon.

This means that both online and classroom course participants can keep driving skills current and may be eligible for insurance discounts. While both are geared for drivers age 50 and older, the courses are open to people of any age. The online course can be completed at a participant’s own pace and in their own home or office.

The courses provide tips on: negotiating busy intersections and defensive driving skills; understanding new car safety technologies like anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and air bags; and reviews current traffic laws as well as ways to handle road rage. They also examine the changes in vision, hearing, flexibility and reaction times often associated with normal aging, and provide practical techniques on how to make adjustments and remain safe on the road.

Said de Broekert, “it’s important for older drivers across Oregon to tune up our driving skills – whether online or in a classroom setting.”

The cost of the online program is $15.95 for AARP members and $19.95 for non-members. Take the online course. For in-class locations, times and dates, visit www.aarp.org/drive or call 866-231-0216 toll-free.

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