The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 30, 2013

Older drivers -- brush up your skills


The Clinton Herald

---- — Attentive readers of this column know that I write about fraud and scams. Each column takes on a different aspect of that never-ending problem. But that is not my only role with Seniors vs. Crime. Beside reducing the victimization of seniors by crime, I work to promote overall safety in the senior citizen community. One way we do this is to partner with the American Association of Retired Persons in its efforts to improve driver safety in older drivers.

Seniors vs. Crime will co-sponsor, along with AARP, an AARP driver safety course, on May 2 at the Clinton Community College Technology Center, located at 1951 Manufacturing Drive. The course will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. A nice lunch is included.

Why should you take this course in addition to a free lunch? Well, consider these things. Cars have changed. Our roads have changed. Have you driven along Camanche Avenue in Clinton lately?Traffic rules and traffic patterns change. The behavior of other drivers changes. This is demonstrated by the widespread use of cell phones while driving. Perhaps most importantly, we change, as we age. It’s a rare driver who can claim his or her vision improves with age. Driving after dark may become more challenging — our hearing might get impaired and physical reaction times might increase.

Do these signs mean older drivers can’t drive well? No, but we can improve. The AARP course will teach:

n How to minimize effects of blind spots;

n How to maintain safe following distance behind another car;

n Safest ways to change lanes and make turns at busy intersections;

n Proper use of safety belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and new technology in cars;

n Affects of medication on driving;

n Monitoring and assessing your driving skills and those of others; and

n Eliminating distractions — did I mention cell phones?

Do you want another reason to take the course? It may save money on your auto insurance. Some insurers offer a discount to course graduates. You need to talk to your agent to find out what your company offers.

To register for the May 2 course, call 1-888-336-3907. It will speed things up if you know the section number, which is 122034. The cost is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. You can also register online at www.eicc.edu/cregistration. The size of the class is capped at 25 so don’t delay registration.

Scam trends

Keep a close eye on your bank statements. Read them closely and look for unauthorized charges or electronic checks you did not write. In my last column, I wrote how callers, claiming to represent Medicare, are angling for your bank account numbers. If they successfully get your number, they can easily submit electronic checks to draw on your account. Sometimes the amount withdrawn is small to lessen the chance of an overdraft, which would certainly get your attention. A small amount submitted month after month can get overlooked.

In a recent case brought to me, an electronic check drew on the account for only $30. But if it draws monthly for several years, and no one notices, that really adds up.

If you want to talk about frauds, scams or other safety issues, contact me, Randy Meier, at Seniors vs. Crime, 242-9211, extension 4433.

Randy Meier is the director of Seniors vs. Crime, which operates in conjunction with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.