A Guide to Talking With Older Drivers
The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles has a very useful booklet called Talking With Older Drivers: A Guide for Family and Friends that helps family members and friends know when and how to get involved in an older person’s decision on whether to continue or modify their driving. The booklet can be downloaded online. Go to dmv.state.pa.us and click on the Older Driver Information Center.
When to Stop Driving
We want to continue driving as long as we can do so safely. For many of us, however, the time may come when we must limit or stop driving—either temporarily or permanently.
What are the warning signs when someone should begin to limit driving or stop altogether?
- Feeling uncomfortable, nervous or fearful while driving.
- Dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors and curbs.
- Difficulty staying in the lane of travel.
- Getting lost.
- Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs and pavement markings.
- Slower response to unexpected situations.
- Medical conditions or medications that may affect your ability to handle the car safely.
- Frequent “close calls” (almost crashing).
- Trouble judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance/exit ramps.
- Other drivers honking at you and instances when you are angry at other drivers.
- Friends or relatives not wanting to drive with you.
- Difficulty seeing the sides of the road when looking straight ahead.
- Easily distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving.
- Having a hard time turning around to check over your shoulder while backing up or changing lanes.
- Frequent traffic tickets or warnings by traffic/law enforcement officers in the last year or two.
AARP Driver Safety Program
The AARP Driver Safety Program is the the nation’s first and largest classroom refresher course for drivers ages 50 and older. The eight-hour course is designed to help update driving skills and knowledge of the rules of the road, learn about normal age-related physical changes and how they impact driving, and obtain an insurance discount. To learn more and to locate classes in your area, visit the above website and type “Driver Safety Program” in the search box.
American Kidney Fund
Offered to needy dialysis and kidney transplant patients nationwide. Grants are provided for treatment-specific expenses such as transportation.
Access-Able Travel Source
This website provides information and resources for travelers with disabilities, the mature travel. Disability magazines, access guides, wheelchair travel, scooter rental, accessible transportation, world destinations, lists of travel professionals, links and tips for the traveler with disabilities.
Rents and sells both full-size and lowered floor minivans through a national owner-operated dealer network.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
1101 South Front St.
Harrisburg, PA 17104
Special parking placards and license plates are available for those with disabilities. To apply for a placard and/or license plate, the forms must be filled out by a physician and notarized. There is no fee for the placard. However, there is a $11 charge for the special license plate. Forms can be obtained by calling PennDOT’s customer call center or can be downloaded from the website.
Retired Status Registration Motor Vehicle Registration
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
1101 South Front St.
Harrisburg, PA 17113
Eligible applicants, regardless of age, must be retired and receiving Social Security, SSI payments, retirement benefits or other pensions and annuities. The total income from all sources named above must not exceed $19,200. To be eligible for the retired status processing fee, the vehicle must be titled and registered in the person’s name that meets the above qualifications. If the vehicle is registered jointly to two people, at least one of the registrants must meet the requirements above. Only one vehicle per person may be registered for the $10 processing fee. Forms are available at notaries, tag agencies and dealerships, by calling PennDOT’s customer call center or online.
Seniors For Safe Driving
(724) 283-0245 or (800) 559-4880
This driver improvement program is designed especially for seniors. It allows drivers a chance to refresh their driving techniques, develop positive driving attitudes and regain lost confidence. There is no written exam or behind-the-wheel test. A nominal tuition fee is charged. Call for class locations, dates and times. You can also register for a class online at the above website.
For most of us, driving a car is second nature—but as we age, it’s a smart idea to revisit safe-driving habits that may seem routine. The first page of this section offers driving tips and special information for older drivers. How do you know when it’s time to stop driving? We cover tips for making this major decision on page 58. Deciding to no longer drive is not the end of your freedom, however; our county offers many alternatives to get where you need to go.
BART (Butler Area Rural Transit)
130 Hollywood Dr., Ste. 102
Butler, PA 16001
This is a shared ride system transporting 60+seniors to senior centers, medical appointments, adult day care, and other destinations within Butler County using handicapped accessible vehicles. BART is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations can be made up to three days in advance. Advanced scheduling is highly recommended to assure availability.
(724) 776-3050, Cranberry Service
(724) 282-3051, Butler Service
This on-demand taxi service provides coverage to Butler City and Township, Connoquenessing, Cranberry Township, Evans City, Harmony, Mars, Valencia and Zelienople, as well as service to Pittsburgh International Airport. Reservations are not necessary but call at least an hour before pickup. Dispatcher can provide estimates of fares.
Disabled American Veterans
(800) 362-8262 ext. 5010
Assists as a last resort only, to provide veterans transportation to an appointment at the Butler VA Medical Center, VA contracted appointments, or Pittsburgh VA Medical Centers and private VA contracted facilities. The shuttle can also transport to the Pittsburgh VA.
Call one of the numbers listed above at least one or two weeks in advance for details. Service is free, but veterans must be able to enter and exit under their own power (not wheelchair or scooter accessible.) Veterans do not have to have service-connected disabilities or be a member of the D.A.V. or resident of Butler County.
Pennsylvania Yellow Dot Program
Yellow Dot was created to assist those who have been in a traffic accident and aren’t able to communicate their emergency care needs by themselves. Participants complete a personal information form, which includes their name and photo, contact information, emergency contact information, medical history and medications, allergies and their doctors’ names. The form goes into the person’s glove compartment. A yellow dot is placed in the vehicle’s rear window to alert first responders to check the glove compartment for vital information to ensure the individuals receive the medical attention they need.
The program is a cooperative effort among the Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation, Health and Aging; Pennsylvania State Police; Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and First Responders and local law enforcement.
The Blind Association of Butler and Armstrong
This association may provide transportation for an agency client after proper paperwork has been filed and vision deficiencies verified to Vision medical appointments.
113 E. Cunningham St.
Butler, PA 16001
The Butler Transit Authority (BTA) provides free rides for individuals over the age of 65 seven days a week, seniors may also ride to Pittsburgh on Myers Coach Lines for free Monday through Friday. “the bus” travels throughout the City of Butler, Butler Township, and to the Clearview Mall in Center Township. Routes include all the major shopping destinations in Butler: Butler Commons, Moraine Pointe Plaza, Point Plaza, Bon Aire Shopping Center, Pullman Square and the Clearview Mall.
“the bus” also travels to major medical facilities, including Butler Health System, Butler VA, Benbrook Medical Center, and more. Seniors age of 65 and older must have a pass to ride free. Proof of age is required to qualify for the Senior Pass. Passes and schedules are available at the terminal.
If you’ve never ridden “the bus” before, they have staff that will ride with you the first time.
The Butler Assist Coach
A division of Butler Ambulance Service provides medically necessary wheelchair van transportation.
Drive with Care
• Plan your trips ahead of time. Decide what time to leave and which roads to take. Try to avoid heavy traffic, poor weather and high-speed areas.
• Wear your seat belt and wear it correctly. (It should go over your shoulder and across your lap.)
• Drive at the speed limit. It’s unsafe to drive too fast or too slow.
• Be alert; pay attention to traffic at all times.
• Keep enough distance between you and the car in front of you.
• Be extra careful at intersections. Use your turn signals and remember to look around for people and other cars.
• Check your blind spot when changing lanes or backing up.
• Be extra careful at train tracks. Remember to look both ways for trains.
• When you take a new medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects. Many meds can affect your driving even when you feel fine.
• Drink and drive.
• Drive when you feel angry or tired. If you start to feel tired, stop your car somewhere safe. Take a break until you feel more alert.
• Eat, drink or use a cell phone while driving.
• If you don’t see well in the dark, try not to drive at night or during storms.
• If you have trouble making left turns at an intersection, make three right turns instead of one left turn.
• If you can, avoid driving in bad weather such as rain, sleet or snow.
Take Care of Your Car
• Make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank.
• Keep windshields and mirrors clean.
• Keep a cloth in your car for cleaning windows.
• Replace your windshield wiper blades when they become worn out.