The Saskatchewan Safety Council (SSC) is providing a free driver refresher course for seniors this fall, and the course is intended to coincide with the decline in driving conditions as the seasons change.
“The purpose of the course is to remind people about some changes that have happened in the driving environment in Saskatchewan, and to remind them about some age-specific concerns, such as medications, vision, hearing loss, (and) a lack of mobility,” explained the SSC’s new media specialist, Rory McCusker.
The mature driver refresher course isn’t new, but this year the SSC wants to bring the course to more communities across the province.
“Traffic safety has always been a priority for the Saskatchewan Safety Council,” said McCusker.
“Anyone who lives in Saskatchewan knows that driving changes a little bit once that sheet of ice becomes prevalent... We thought October was a really good time to get this message out,” McCusker explained.
The refresher course will take place over six hours, with a two-and-a-half-hour block before and after a one-hour lunch break.
“Our experienced instructor, who is a mature driver himself, has really focused this course on bringing attention to those elements as we age — what changes as we age, and how that applies to driving,” explained McCusker.
“There’s no required examination and there are no tests. It’s just an open, positive learning environment and a strictly informational course,” he said.
The course will review normal driving situations that include intersection controls, safe following distances, and maintaining open gates around your vehicle when driving. This includes traffic guidance ranging from sign recognition to pavement markings to safety devices such as seatbelts, airbags, and mirrors.
“Some stuff might seem obvious… but… when it’s been a while since you’ve taken a driving course, especially if you’ve spent some time living out of town or not practicing your driving skills, any skill can dull when you don’t practice it,” McCusker said.
The course will also review driving hazards such as skidding, head-on collisions, and hydroplaning.
“We finish with some senor-specific issues, things like medication awareness, vision and the effective use of your eyes, how hearing loss can affect driving, (and) using your head movement to cover more of the road,” McCusker said.
An important element of the course is to combat the negative stigma around senior drivers.
“Well, the reality is, experienced drivers are actually the least likely to get in a collision,” he said.
According to traffic safety statistics gathered by SGI in 2019, drivers over the age of 65 represented nearly one in five drivers on the road, yet they are accountable for only 10.1 per cent of vehicle collisions.
McCusker said the biggest issue is the length of time since drivers have had training, and many rules and conditions can change since the typical driver’s education course is taken around the age of 15.
“Imagine it being 40, 50, or 60 years since you’ve last taken driver training – a lot can change in that time,” McCusker said, noting that this is a primary reason for the senior’s refresher course.
Refresher courses are important no matter your age or level of confidence. “Taking these matters into your own hands, taking safety and injury prevention in your community into your own hands is never a bad idea, no matter what age you are,” McCusker said.
“We could all use a little refresher,” he added.
The SSC is a non-profit registered charity operating in the province since 1955. The organization is dedicated to the prevention of injuries “at home, at play, and at work,” according to its mission statement.
“We focus our efforts on free training and resources for everyone in the province, especially at-risk populations, (and) statistically significant injury demographics,” McCusker explained.
The upcoming course is free of charge. “There is no cost associated at all,” confirmed McCusker.
Participation in the course does not affect your driver's license, and there’s no risk of it being suspended “Your license is not reviewed – we don’t even take down your license number,” he confirmed.
The course takes place on Oct. 16, and will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Town ‘N’ Country mall is located at 1235 Main Street North, and classroom details will be emailed to registrants when they sign up.
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