(LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12, 2005) — A new computer program that will help seniors self-assess their "driving health" in the privacy of their homes is now available in all Automobile Club of Southern California offices.
"Roadwise Review" is a CD-ROM program developed by AAA and other transportation experts. It includes scientifically validated testing of eight physical and mental skills that studies have shown are vital to safe driving. It is available at Auto Club offices for the nominal fee of $5 for members and $7 for non-members, and within the next month it will also be available for free use at many libraries and senior centers throughout Southern California.
"As we get older, we all start to experience physical changes that can impact our driving abilities," said Patrice Frazier, the Auto Club's managing director for community programs. "Because these changes often happen gradually, we may not even be aware of them. 'Roadwise Review' gives seniors objective feedback on their driving-related physical and mental skills, and offers specific recommendations so they can adjust their driving habits accordingly."
The Auto Club recommends that seniors use "Roadwise Review" annually to assess their skills, just like their regular doctor's checkup. The entire program takes about 40 minutes to perform and can be paused and restarted. It is designed to be used with the assistance of a partner, such as a spouse, a friend, a child or a grandchild. It tests abilities such as leg strength, visual acuity, and memory.
"Seniors who have gone through the test have told us it is fun and easy to use," Frazier said.
Most seniors are safe motorists. California drivers aged 50 to 60 are involved in fewer fatal and injury crashes per mile driven than any other age group. But after age 60, drivers' crash rates per mile driven start to rise again. Lapses in visual and perception skills can increase drivers' likelihood of causing a crash as they age, and they are also more likely to die in crashes because of their increased physical frailty. The aim of "Roadwise Review" is to reduce those crashes by helping seniors to adapt their driving habits, if necessary, and also to help them determine whether they still have the skills they need to continue driving.
The "Roadwise Review" program is the latest development in the Auto Club's Senior Mobility Initiative, which began two years ago. The Auto Club and AAA launched the special effort to improve safety for senior drivers because of the expected surge in the senior driver population as the "baby boomer" generation starts to retire.
As part of the effort, the Auto Club is advocating changes in public policy and vehicle design, such as larger-print street signs and simplified vehicle dashboards, that will allow seniors to drive safely for as long as possible.
In addition to "Roadwise Review," senior drivers can also visit the Auto Club for free educational pamphlets on special driving challenges they may face, and Auto Club members can enroll in Mature Driver classes offered at select Southern California locations. The day-long class teaches seniors how to adapt their driving to changes associated with aging, and members who have auto insurance through the Auto Club's affiliated Interinsurance Exchange will receive a discount on the medical portion of their coverage after completing the class.
Over the next few weeks, seniors can check the Auto Club's Web site, aaa-calif.com, for a complete listing of libraries and senior centers that have accepted donated copies of the "Roadwise Review" program from the Auto Club.
The CD-ROM program is designed for use on personal computers (not Macintosh) running Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Windows ME. It may also work on computers with Windows 98 if the computer has an upgraded video card and/or amount of RAM. Anyone who has trouble installing the program can e-mail the Auto Club at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com.