Senior drivers get up to speed in Lincolnwood
Updated: April 29, 2013 10:03AM
LINCOLNWOOD — Stereotyping seniors as poor drivers can be compared to typecasting newly-licensed teenagers as fast drivers — both assumptions aren’t always true.
But just as insurance rates are higher for teenage boys, the driving laws tighten for seniors turning 75, who are required by the State of Illinois to take a road test before their license can be renewed.
A defensive driving class hosted by the Lincolnwood Parks and Recreation Department and the AARP this month (and again in April) aims to refresh Lincolnwood residents and drivers in surrounding communities over age 55 on the current rules of the road and teach defensive driving and safety techniques.
Statistics actually show nationwide crash rates among drivers 70 and older have declined during the past decade (according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety), but the State of Illinois tightens laws for drivers as they age, requiring drivers between ages 81 and 86 to renew their licenses every two years, and drivers over 87 to renew driving privileges annually.
Driving ability aside, it’s been a long time since the days of high school drivers education classes for many adult drivers, and while the basic rules of the road haven’t changed much, many driving laws have.
The class, open to both members and non-members of the AARP, is a two-day, eight-hour course taught by an AARP-certified instructor that also shows participants how to adjust to common age-related changes that affect vision, hearing and reaction time — common motor skills that effect driving ability and are shown to decline with age.
“The class is a social service we offer through the Lincolnwood Social Club,” said Jan Springer, superintendent of recreation for the Village of Lincolnwood. “We cover the basic rules of the road as well as any driving laws that have changed in recent years.”
Between 12 to 25 participants on average have been signing up for each class session during the past few years, so the course has proven to be fairly popular among Lincolnwood seniors hoping to sharpen their skills on the road.
Those who were excited to get behind the wheel of a car and test their skills with the guidance of an instructor, however, will have to get in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for that experience, because the AARP class is taught strictly in the classroom.
Besides the obvious safety incentives for taking the course, insurance companies also offer discounts to seniors who complete the course, Springer said, but completion of the course was not a guarantee that a participant would qualify for reduced insurance rates.
Springer did not have information on how long the village has been hosting the defensive driving classes.
The next AARP Defensive Driving Class will be held April 23 and 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincolnwood Community Center, 6900 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood. Pre-registration is required to attend. To register, call 847-677-9740 or stop by the Parks and Recreation office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The class fee is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Both class days must be attended to receive a completion certificate.