AAA survey finds nearly half of senior drivers worry about no longer driving

Nearly half of senior drivers worry about losing their independence and mobility when it’s time to give up their car keys, according to a recent survey by the AAA.  As 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old every day, AAA is actively working to preserve the safe mobility of seniors across America.

“Planning, skills assessment and education are key steps to maintaining the safe mobility of senior drivers,” said AAA Washington spokesperson Jennifer Cook. “The good news is that a little effort now can really help seniors extend their safe driving years.”

These issues led AAA to create a comprehensive online resource to provide expert advice and helpful resources for older adults and their families—working to support them as they tackle the challenge of balancing safety and mobility. provides convenient, online access to a wealth of interactive material designed to assess and improve driving skills and reduce driving risks. These free resources include:

· AAA Roadwise Review – A computer-based screening tool that allows older drivers to measure changes in their functional abilities scientifically linked to crash risk.

· Drivers 65+: Check Your Performance –A self-rating form of questions, facts and suggestions for safe driving.

· Smart Features for Mature Drivers – A guide to help identify vehicle features that can assist drivers with the visual, physical and mental changes that are frequently encountered as they age.

To view results from AAA’s survey of older drivers visit  For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drivers and their families, visit

By Julie E. Lee

Fortunately, pedestrian accidents, like many traffic accidents, are preventable. Yet 47,000 people were killed and 688,000 were injured while crossing or walking along a street over the last decade. This means that a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle nearly every seven minutes in the U.S.

When you’re in the driver’s seat, avoid an accident by abiding by these five AARP Driver Safety tips:

1. Always be on the lookout. Pedestrians can and will be found anywhere, even places where you are not expecting them (like highways or busy, multiple-lane intersections). It is therefore crucial that you frequently scan the road ahead of you, including shoulders and sidewalks, to spot pedestrians before you approach them.

2. Stay alert and avoid distracted driving. Assuming they have the right-of-way, many pedestrians walk into the street without confirming that oncoming traffic is aware of their presence. Pedestrians—especially children—are often hidden in between parked cars or behind other objects, including stopped or turning vehicles. To avoid an accident, stay alert by avoiding distractions. Do not eat or drink, fiddle with the radio or navigation units or use a cell phone while driving.

3. Show caution. There are likely areas in your community where you can anticipate pedestrians. At crosswalks and intersections, drive slowly and stop for pedestrians looking to cross—even if they are not at a marked crosswalk. When stopping at an unmarked point, stop far enough in advance so that the drivers behind you can also prepare to stop. Furthermore, when approaching a red light, be sure to stop far enough behind the line for pedestrians to cross safely.

4. Be respectful. Do not show hostility or aggression to drivers who are yielding to pedestrians. Never honk when the driver in front of you has stopped, and do not attempt to pass the stopped vehicle in front of you.

5.Watch for children. Because of their small size, children can be difficult to spot. Drive slowly and be on the lookout in school zones and residential neighborhoods.

 Safe walking is sometimes just as important as safe driving. If you’re on the pedestrian-side* of the road, adhere to these five safety tips:

 1. Use the sidewalk. If the street is not designed for pedestrians, avoid walking on it. Do not walk on highways or in restricted zones.

2.  Obey “walk” and “do not walk” signs. Jaywalking is an illegal offense for which you can receive a ticket.

3. Do not make assumptions. Don’t assume that a vehicle will stop for you just because you are waiting to cross. Try to make eye contact with the driver before initiating crossing. Do not cross multiple lanes of traffic without making sure drivers in all lanes see you. If you’re in a busy city, do not cross without looking both ways—even when you have the pedestrian “walk” symbol—as drivers do occasionally run red lights.

4. Do not walk long distances under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just as you should never drive under the influence, do not walk long distances or in traffic-heavy areas when you are under the influence. Call a taxi or use public transportation.

5. Be courteous. When a driver stops to allow you to cross, give him or her a quick wave to demonstrate your appreciation.

 For more resources and additional information on how to stay safe on the road, consider taking a driver improvement course, such as AARP Driver Safety’s classroom or online courses, available in both English and Spanish.  You may even be eligible for an insurance discount upon completion of the AARP Driver Safety course.  Check with your insurance agent for details.  For more information, visit or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).

Julie Lee, Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety, has more than 30 years experience in management, strategic planning, transportation and safety. With AARP for over eight years, Lee directs the largest driver improvement course designed for drivers age 50 and older.

*RCW 46.61.250-When there is no sidewalk, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the road.

Many people think of stress as another word for tension or pressure. Actually, stress is the way each of us responds to change. Understanding stress can help you use it to your advantage and potentially turn “stressors” into positive energy.

Our body responds to stress in many ways. Acute (sudden or short-term) stress leads to rapid changes throughout the body. Almost all the body’s systems (heart and blood vessels, immune system, lungs, digestive system, sensory organs and brain) gear up to meet perceived danger. Hormones, such as adrenaline, surge. Heart beat and pulse rate increase. Blood sugar rises. These effects helped prehistoric humans survive by enabling them to run faster or fight harder, which is why we often call this reaction to stress the “fight or flight” response.

Over time, however, repeated stressful situations put a strain on the body that may contribute to physical and psychological problems. Chronic (long-term) stress can have serious consequences and should be addressed like any other health concern.

Stressors are things or events, such as traffic congestion, divorce or a difficult job, that cause stress. We often experience tense muscles, headaches or stomach pains during, before and after these situations. But stressors can also be positive experiences. Having a baby, bowling a perfect 300 game, or completing a satisfying project are changes that can activate our stress response.

The body cannot tell the difference between a positive or negative stressor. In either case, it experiences the same stress effects. If we are not able to let off steam and relax, then these effects can be harmful. We may feel tired, depressed or anxious. We may experience physical symptoms such as a clenched jaw or backache.

A 2010 survey by the American Psychological Association found that Americans were experiencing more stress than five years earlier and engaging in unhealthy habits due to stress. During periods of stress, take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, eating healthily, exercising and relaxing (without alcohol or drugs). Doing so will help your body recover from all stress, even when you feel satisfied or excited.

Stress is like body temperature: If it’s too low or too high, you cannot survive. But the right balance can keep you going strong. Talk with your primary care physician or other professional health care provider about stress in your life and how to achieve the necessary balance.

 Neena Chawla, MD, specializes in internal medicine at the Gig Harbor Medical Clinic, which is part of the Franciscan Medical Group.


Gail Kouame, consumer health outreach coordinator for National Network of Libraries of Medicine, will share how to find trusted health information on the Internet and recommend techniques for evaluating health-related websites. Kouame will present the information at a free event at the Bonney Lake Library, 18501 90th St E. on Jan. 21 at 11 a.m.  Friends of the Bonney Lake Library are sponsoring the event—Go to the Web and say ahh:  Finding and evaluating online health information.  For additional information on this event, call 253-548-3308 or go here.