Saturday, August 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How do mature drivers match up with youngsters?

York to test seniors behind the wheel

Who's the better driver, the teenager or the senior citizen?

York County will try to determine the answer starting Tuesday with its inaugural safe driving competition for mature drivers.

Sixteen motorists, aged 60 and up, will be tested on aspects of safe driving through a written exam, perceptual test, and a driving course at the 19th annual Prime of Life Festival at the York Expo Center.

As is the annual safe driving competition for youth, the event is organized in part by York County's Center for Traffic Safety.

"We're pretty excited about it," said Wayne Harper, the center's director.

Bryan Sellers, chairman of the York Area Highway Safety Council, came up with the ideafor the competition for older drivers, Harper said. The Center for Traffic Safety worked with the council's Mature Driver Safety Committee and the York Area Agency on Aging to host the event.

It will be modeled after the youth contest, with a few alterations to the written test to make it more relevant to older participants, he said. Harper said he's not expecting the participants to ace the written test, even though they were given copies of the Pennsylvania Driver's Manual to study.

"Some of these drivers who are going to be in the competition haven't looked at a manual since they were 16," he said.

The perceptual test, which tests situational knowledge based on 10-second visual clips, could be difficult - an older person's eyes aren't as good as a teen's, Harper said.

"But at the same time, the older drivers have the experience," he said, which could help on the driving course. "Some of these drivers might whip into the parallel parking without thinking."

The competition will provide important data about the abilities of older drivers, Harper said.

"We have no idea at this point what to expect in the performance of these drivers," he said. "It is going to tell us a lot about the older drivers."

Local "celebrity drivers" will also participate - state Rep. Keith Gillespie (R., York), York County Commissioner Doug Hoke, and Stan Brown, owner of Brown's Orchards and Farm Market in Loganville.

"I just think it's going to be a lot of fun," Harper said.

The event is being billed as the world's first of its kind - organizers have done some research and are not aware of anything else like it, Harper said. Next year, they want to reach out to more organizations and get more seniors involved, he said.

The event is for more than bragging rights. The best team of three from five York-area senior centers will earn its center $500 and a trophy from sponsor WellSpan Health.

WellSpan will also give $300 to the first-place overall individual winner and $100 to the first-place winner in each of the three competition phases. Sponsor A&S Services Group will give $200 to the second-place winner and $100 to the third-place winner.


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