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I admit the only reason I did it was to save a little money!  Never did I dream that I would be sharing my experience with you.

What did I do?  I sat in front of my computer for four hours over a two-day period and took the AARP Smart Driver™ On-Line Course.  I even got a certificate of completion, Certificate #: 6012:8388644, which I promptly emailed to my auto insurance agent for a slight policy discount.

The class is often offered in my Western Colorado city; but, I wanted to do it in the privacy of my own home and at my own pace.  The hardest part for me was to “disenable my computer’s cookies.”  Actually, I lucked out and somehow I just got them to go away.  Once I started the course, it was enjoyable and enlightening! 

The last time I took a driving course was in 1963 at my Denver, Colorado high school, Thomas Jefferson (TJ).  Believe it or not, what I remember most, was the kid who ran in front of my car when I was taking the official driving test!  I slammed the brakes on my 1954 green Chevy.  Of course, I passed.

In my mind’s eye, I am still that hot chick, wearing tight cords and madras shirt, driving that Chevy.  Gosh, I had fun dragging down 16th Street on the weekends, flirting with the boys in the next car over. (That wonderful downtown street several years later became the Sixteenth Street Mall.  Only trolleys and cop cars drive it now.)

I’ve only had one speeding ticket in my life.  I have spent years driving through canyons and over mountain passes, traversing my home state where my ancestors were early pioneers.   Just recently, I zoomed from the west side of Colorado to the “Queen City of the Plains,” Denver, on the east side to see my grandchildren.  You would think the way I drove that I was an 18-year-old boy! 

Well, let me tell you, those days are over, baby! Speed is the number one killer of senior drivers, I learned.

 You see I found out during this class that I do not have the reaction time, agility, flexibility or eyes and ears that I had in 1963. Gee, there are a lot more people who live in Colorado now (several million more). Oh, my, the roads and highways and roundabouts that have been built.  It is mind boggling.  Of course, my Chevy, which I inherited from my mother when she died in 1964, did not have a computer in it. (At TJ, we were very fortunate because we had two electric typewriters in Miss Hoots’ class.)  My Honda CRV has lots of computer parts.  It allows me to read a text when it comes to my iphone or iwatch.  I am so thankful that it has a GPS system!  We’ve come a long way, baby!

 At the beginning of the course, the effects of medications – over-the-counter, prescription or herbal – on driving is highly stressed.  No wonder, from television, to the computer, drugs are marketed to us nonstop it seems.  Then, the course, of course, (sorry, I just had to have a little linguistic fun) went into booze.  Did you know that the older we get the longer booze stays in our system and it does not matter if it is wine or “hard stuff.”  In fact, if you have a couple of drinks at dinner, the alcohol is likely to still be in your system at noon the next day! 

 The course discussed proper seat and mirror adjustment.  Oh, my god, I thought.  I have shrunk 4 inches.  I might now be one of those little old ladies hidden behind the steering wheel.  Dusk and dawn are the hardest time of the day for us to see.  We seem to have problems yielding the right-away and making left-hand turns.  Sleep deprivation, depression, and focusing ability also affect our driving.

 The course was great about discussing evaluating yourself about your driving ability; and if you decide to give up the keys, other forms of transportation available to you.  It also talked about when you are concerned about someone else’s driving. AARP has an excellent resource for those concerned about a loved one’s driving.  Also, their web site has a wonderful section on tips, tools, and resources.

 I know, for me, I am so glad I do not have to drive in “rush hour,” bumper-to-bumper traffic, or on 4- or more lanes of highways anymore.  I am learning how to use lyft when I travel and am so looking forward to my future purchase of a driverless-car, a hot little red thing, of course!

 Copyright – Elizabeth J. Wheeler – February 10, 2018