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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2011

State and Non-profit Agencies Join Forces to Promote Senior Driving Safety
Partnership Encourages Participation in Refresher Courses; Proclamation Designates Senior Driving Awareness Weeks

CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office (SOS), Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) and AARP have joined forces to promote traffic safety and encourage interested seniors to take advantage of the Rules of the Road refresher courses offered by the Illinois Secretary of State and other classes or services made available by AARP and the Illinois Department on Aging. A state proclamation has declared March 21-31, 2011 as Senior Driving Awareness Weeks. 

The safety effort serves a growing population of Illinois seniors as more than 1.2 million drivers, or more than 14 percent of the state’s 8,767,459 licensed drivers, are 65 or older.

“IDOT is dedicated to traffic safety in Illinois and encourages all seniors to take advantage of the refresher courses made available statewide,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “Through the use of strategic partnerships, effective programs and motorist compliance to state law, Illinois has experienced record lows in roadway fatalities and an all-time high in statewide safety belt usage rate.  We strongly support the importance of Senior Driving Awareness Weeks and look forward to its success in promoting senior safety.”

Earlier this year, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that Illinois experienced fewer than 1,000 traffic fatalities in 2010 for the second straight year—reflecting record two-year lows for the state dating to 1921.  In addition, the safety belt usage rate increased to a record-breaking 92.6 percent in 2010, correlating directly to the reduced fatality rate.  The partnership is trying to build greater awareness and improve training and reviews for older drivers to try and protect even more lives on Illinois roadways.

“We want senior drivers to maintain their mobility and independence while continuing a lifetime of safe driving,” said Secretary of State Jesse White.  “Last year my office provided free Rules of the Road classes at 320 locations throughout the state.  The Super Seniors Program, combines Rules of the Road instruction, a vision screening and a driver safety component, providing seniors with the knowledge needed to obtain or renew a driver’s license.  This program, allows seniors to brush up on their driving knowledge in an effort to help them continue driving safely.  I want to thank IDOT, the Department on Aging and AARP for their partnership and ongoing commitment to traffic safety.”

"There are over 3.5 million drivers in Illinois age 50 and older. For them, to stay independent means continuing to drive. It is increasingly important that older drivers have the skills they need to remain safe on the roads," said Merri Dee, State President for AARP in Illinois. "AARP is proud to join with the State of Illinois to increase the offer of driver safety programs and give older drivers additional access to the information and education resources they need to stay safe on the roads.  We commend Governor Quinn, Secretary White and all the state agencies for recognizing the critical importance of this effort."

“It is the mission of the Illinois Department on Aging to serve and advocate on behalf of older adults so that they may remain as independent as possible for a longer period of time in their communities. In that spirit, I am pleased to participate in this campaign to promote driver safety,” said Director Charles D. Johnson. "Regardless of age, driving is one of the most common ways for someone to exercise their independence. As we get older, age-related changes such as hearing, vision and reaction time can affect our capabilities.  So, I encourage older adults to participate in driver safety courses, as offered through the Secretary of State's Office and AARP, to learn adjustments that can help accommodate some of the age related changes so older persons may continue to drive safely.  Let’s all enjoy driving safely as long as we can.”

To view the Illinois Secretary of State’s Rules of the Road class schedule, please visit
http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a226.pdf.  Likewise, for senior driving courses available through AARP, please visit www.aarp.org/home-garden/transportation/driver_safety/. Furthermore, more information about IDOT’s Traffic Safety program can be found online at www.dot.il.gov/safety.html while additional information regarding services from the Illinois Department on Aging is located at www.state.il.us/aging/.



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