The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has formed a team to lead a statewide traffic safety program for older adults. The California Task Force on Older Adults and Traffic Safety Center for Injury Prevention Policy and Practice, San Diego State University, recommended the Highway Patrol as the state agency to foster the development and implementation of a comprehensive statewide strategic initiative on traffic safety among older adults.
The task force outlined a seven-point agenda, which calls for:
California Highway Patrol Commissioner D. O. Helmick stated that the CHP will "look to a broad range of agencies in both the private and public sectors for help in creating a program that address each of these points." Further, the Commissioner stated that an important part of the effort would be "educational."
In addition to the Older Driver Task Force, the Templeton, San Luis Obispo, and Monterrey offices of the Golden Gate Division participate in the facilitation of the AARP Driver Safety Program.
In 2001, the San Diego, California Police Department secured a two-year Senior Citizen's Pedestrian Grant through the California Office of Traffic Safety. The department applied for the grant after noticing that pedestrian fatalities had increased in specific areas of the city where senior citizens crossed roadways. It allows the department's senior citizen volunteers to teach a traffic safety class to senior citizen groups across the city. During the one to two-hour class, titled "Look Out Before You Step Out," volunteers present a Power-Point presentation. Currently, three volunteers teach the program. Initial findings show that fatalities are decreasing in the target areas.
In addition to the pedestrian safety course, Community Safety Officers teach "Awareness Training" to senior citizens. The one to two-hour presentation is adaptive to the local streets and conditions and addresses planning for driving and limitations to a person as the body ages. Both programs are advertised in the local paper and at senior citizen/community centers.
The department participates in an annual Christmas project where officers reduce traffic flow through traffic control measures near a senior citizen residential care facility and allow older pedestrians to cross the road to the "Home Town Buffet" for Christmas dinner. After the dinner, community safety officers address the crowd on traffic safety topics.
The traffic unit, like all California law enforcement agencies, has the ability to send in re-examination requests to the California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when officers encounter drivers whose capabilities to safely drive have been diminished. When extreme circumstances dictate, officers can confiscate a driver's license at the scene under an emergency clause and request that the DMV conduct the re-examination within two to seven days.
San Diego Police Officers also receive initial training at the Regional Police Academy on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In addition, officers receive elderly sensitivity training.
Lieutenant Charles Hogquist
The Pleasanton, California Police Department conducts the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Mature Driving Program monthly. The police department pays the cost of the class and lunch, which is approximately $8 per attendee. Community Service Officer Lisa Mezzetti, a certified AAA Mature Driving instructor, teaches the eight-hour class at the Fire Training Center. The course entails safe driving, defensive driving, and self-assessment for the mature driver. In addition to the AAA curriculum, the police department incorporated a "hands on" section, which involves the senior drivers in backing, parking, and turning exercises through cone patterns. The police department provides city vehicles for these exercises with certified police driving instructors teaching and supervising the practical exercises. The class strengthens the community relations between citizens and the police and provides the seniors with driving training and self-assessment tools. The oldest student to participate in the class was 82 years old. Classes are advertised in the local newspaper.
In addition to the mature driving program, the police department provides AAA senior driving safety brochures to the public at their headquarters and community service/public information booths.
Ms. Quantise McCannon
The following California law enforcement agencies provide officers to assist and provide supplemental traffic safety information at AARP Driver Safety Program classes:
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (Lakewood Mall Substation).
The Arroyo Grande Police Department.
Traffic officers from the Long Beach Police Department speak to AARP instructors at their semiannual workshops on traffic matters relevant to their patrol area.