The highway can be a dangerous place—especially if you're a senior citizen.
According to AAA, drivers 65 and older are involved in more vehicle crashes than any other age group besides teenagers. They are also most likely to be killed in a car wreck.
For these reasons and more, the Seven Oaks Senior Center in Perry Hall, hosted a defensive driving course through the AARP Driver Safety Program on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 15.
"The purpose is to help people drive better, be more aware, be more vigilant and cause fewer accidents," said Thomas F. Schwartz, an 85-year-old Baltimore City resident who instructed the class.
The four-hour class drew approximately 27 participants, many of whom were members of the center. Upon completion, they each received a certificate, which represents a possible car insurance discount.
Ruth Early, 72, who lives in Perry Hall, takes the course every two years, which allows her to save $98 annually through GEICO Car Insurance.
"I come for the discount," she said, "but I also find it very informative. I thought you were supposed to pump the break, but now I know that you can just hold it. I also like being reminded of what all the signs mean."
Class members sat with folders full of driving manuals and brochures from the Maryland Transit Administration and the AARP. Some took notes. Many asked questions, ranging from the appropriate use of turn signals to driving in construction zones.
Schwartz repeatedly encouraged drivers to use good judgment, drive courteously and exercise caution. At times, it's also important not to drive at all, he said.
Herbert Harry, 80, who takes the class every three years, now restricts his driving to a couple times a week. He also no longer drives at night.
"I've noticed that my reaction time is slower. This class is a helpful reminder of information I already know," said Harry.
Schwartz, who has volunteered as an AARP instructor for the past 16 years, has noticed even his own driving skills deteriorate with age.
"I think that I'm almost as capable a driver as I once was, but I'd be lying to myself if I thought that I hadn't lost something," he said.
"I hope that teaching the course helps myself, as much as it helps the students."