Art of Aging: Safe driving

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Many seniors dread the day they have to give up the keys, but now there is a program aimed at keeping them on the road.

Many seniors dread the day they have to give up the keys, but now there is a program aimed at keeping them on the road.

Alexandra Aldridge felt lost when a stroke temporarily took her off the road.

She drives more than 12,000 miles a year, and not just around town.

"At least one trip to New York a month, frequently to Maryland, where we have a farm," said Alexandra.

Most of her abilities returned, but before getting back behind the wheel, doctors recommend she get cleared by Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital's Driver Rehab program.

Now in its 33rd year, the program helps people of all ages, many after an illness.

First, they have an evaluation.

Driver Rehab Specialist Tom Kalina said, "Looking at their vision, reaction time, how their arms and legs are working, and looking at memory."

Then they're tested on the road, in the type of driving they normally do, to see if their skills have changed.

"They might be good enough, but if they use their old habits, they might be in trouble," said Kalina.

Kalina says his most frequent pointers are good ones for any driver.

Come to a full stop at stop signs.

"We call it our free insurance policy - doesn't cost you anything, but gives you a lot of coverage, he said.

Also leave more following distance, and distance behind a car when you stop.

Plus, try to avoid times with a lot of sun glare - like sunrise & sunset.

Our ability to recover from glare goes down with age.

If you have nerve damage or neuropathy of your feet, consider switching to hand controls.

Kalina believes that condition is behind many accidents, where people "mistake" the accelerator for the brake.

"When they have pedal errors, it's usually because of numbness of the foot," he said.

Alexandra passed her tests, but made a few adjustments, and is happily on the road.

"Yes," she said.
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healthMain Line Healthart of agingseniorsdriving
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