Driving certificate

Seniors for Safe Driving course returns to YMCA | Progress News

PHILIPSBURG — An adult driver improvement course for seniors for safe driving will be offered at the Moshannon Valley YMCA in August.

The course, designed for drivers 55 and older, will take place August 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $16. The program, which is approved by the state Department of Transportation, acts as a refresher course as well as an introduction to recent driving techniques, according to Desiree Simpson, office manager of Seniors For Safe Driving.

“It’s designed to refresh and improve your driving techniques, regain lost confidence and simply be a more confident, positive driver,” Simpson said. “After taking this course, you will get a certificate that you will give to your insurance company. They will put a discount on your policy. That’s a minimum of five percent for a three-year period.

The course has no tests or driving component.

Driving has changed over the years. Years ago, drivers were taught to place both hands on the steering wheel at position ten and two. When turning, people had to perform a hand-over-hand movement. The introduction of airbags has changed the way people have to safely hold the steering wheel.

“It’s not safe to have your hands in front of your chest like that anymore,” Simpson said. “If your airbag goes off, your arms could be broken and damage your chest.”

New drivers likely hold the steering wheel at eight and four o’clock, shuffling their hands to make a turn, Simpson noted. No more large circular movements of the hands crossing each other.

The course may also cover anti-lock brakes. Occasionally, people may have to slam their brakes, which creates a squealing and pulsating feeling. This feature may shock those who grew up without anti-lock brakes.

“Imagine if you were 65, put on the brakes and felt this squeal and you had no idea what it was,” Simpson said. “You buy a new car and…they don’t really tell you when you hit the brakes, it’s going to feel like the front of your car is going to fall off, because the anti-lock braking system has kicked in. C It’s kind of scary. We’re letting people know to ease those fears a bit.

The course can also address specifics, such as aggressive drivers, texting, changes to construction zones, and more, according to Simpson.

There is also a section on how to adapt to the changes in body and mind that naturally occur with aging. These can range from flexibility to sight.

“These are things that are going to be with us until the end of time because everyone is going to get old,” Simpson said. “A lot of people don’t know how to deal with it, maybe they’re embarrassed to do it or they don’t know there are other people dealing with it. We help them (understand) how to recognize such problems and what they can do to feel better and have more confidence when driving.

The group also promotes PennDOT’s Yellow Dot program. By affixing a Yellow Dot sticker to the car’s rear window, drivers can alert first responders to check the glove compartment for medical information.

Seniors For Safe Driving is happy to resume in-person lessons. During the pandemic, they offered online classes, but that excluded people who didn’t have internet access or struggled with technology. Going to places like the YMCA is exciting.

“I feel very lucky,” Simpson said. “A lot of facilities are reopening and they’re scheduling classes. We’ve had a huge response. People are excited to get out of their homes and back.

The YMCA has worked with the group in the past, according to branch manager Chris Calliari.

“Before I came here, they came often,” Calliari said. “We had something established before COVID. After COVID, (Simpson) reached out and asked when we could start again.

Calliari wants to offer a course twice a year, one in summer and one in winter. With an older population, Philipsburg could benefit from a course targeting seniors.

“When you get to a certain age, you start losing your sight, you start losing your hearing, so you should take another class,” Calliari said.

People can sign up in three ways, according to Calliari. They can call 1-800-559-4880, go online to www.SeniorsForSafeDriving.com, or ask for help registering with the Moshannon Valley YMCA.