Older Drivers and Safety

Older Drivers in NJ

Older drivers have been in the New Jersey news headlines of late. In March of 2014, an 83-year-old man was charged in a hit and run death of a bicycle rider. Also in March, an 86-year-old woman’s car was hit by a train as she was proceeding through a train crossing (she miraculously survived). In January, a 71-year-old driver crashed into the front of a Rite-Aid store, and a 75-year-old slammed into a person at a Trader Joe’s parking lot with her car late last year.

Not all older drivers are a danger to themselves and others, but as people age, eyesight and reaction time naturally decreases. Medications also contribute to one’s ability to drive in a safe manner. Approximately two thirds of seniors who drive take medications which can hinder their driving ability.

In New Jersey, senior drivers are only required to renew their driver’s licenses every 4 years, and in person for every other renewal. There are no special requirements for older drivers in the Garden State, but other states do have tighter requirements for older drivers. In Illinois, for example, drivers must take road test starting at age 75. For those who are aged 81 to 86, they must renew their license every two years, and after age 87, every year.

Older drivers face typical driving challenges such as:

  • Dealing with aggressive drivers
  • Driving at night
  • Maneuvering roundabouts
  • Yielding right of ways
  • Backing up and parking
  • Making left hand turns
  • Driving around large trucks
  • Driving in ice and snow

To help older people become more confident and safe drivers, AARP has developed a Driver Safety Course for people over 50. The course teaches current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques, safe ways to change lanes, how to use a car’s safety features properly, how medications affect driving, how blind spots affect driving, ways to monitor your driving ability, and more. In NJ, these 4, 6, or 8 hour courses are only $15 for AARP members, or $20 for non-members. As an added incentive, upon completion of the course, New Jersey seniors may qualify for a discount on their auto insurance premiums.

AARP Driver Safety Course in Mercer County, NJ:

  • Lawrence Senior Center in Lawrenceville, NJ
  • Robert Wood Johnson University Health Wellness Center in Mercerville, NJ
  • Hamilton Senior Center in Hamilton, NJ
  • Echo, Inc. in Trenton, NJ
  • Ewing Township Senior Center in Ewing, NJ
  • Princeton Wellness Center in Princeton, NJ
  • West Windsor Senior Center in West Windsor, NJ

In Burlington County, NJ:

  • Willingboro Senior Center in Willingboro, NJ
  • St. Paul United Methodist Church in Willingboro, NJ
  • YMCA of Mount Laurel in Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Virtua Health and Wellness Center in Moorestown, NJ
  • Virtua Hospital – VIP Program in Mount Holly, NJ

For more information on the AARP Driver Safety Course, visit http://bit.ly/safeNJdriver.