AAA Reaches Out To "Mature Motorists"

June 7, 2012 Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 2:08 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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June 7, 2012 Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 2:08 PM EDT

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - According to the New York State DMV, about 300 drivers over the age of 65 were killed in car crashes in the state last year. Now, the Buffalo division of the Automobile Association of America (AAA) is reaching out to whom they call "mature motorists".

"This is the AAA Senior Expo, and why we're doing this is because there are a lot of resources to keep seniors safe on the road, but there is not one place for them to go to get information. So we brought vendors including Erie County Vendor Services and ECMC," AAA driver educator Kerry Donnelly said.

They also held demonstrations that educated seniors, along with checking to make sure each person was on the right track.

"One of the things we do is "Car Fit" which fits seniors into their car better. For example, if they are too far from the pedals, it is hard to operate them correctly. If they are too close to the steering wheel, it's hard to maneuver should an emergency occur," Donnelly said.

Morrie Johnson, 72, said he participated in "Car Fit". Although he passed with flying colors, he said it was a good refresher.

"I think it's a great program. I believe when I got here they had ninety people registered," Johnson said.

This is AAA first of event of this kind and they say they are doing this because of recent accidents involving elderly drivers.

Last September, a 74-year-old woman slammed into the Cheeburger, Cheeburger Restaurant on Niagara Falls Boulevard, taking the life of two people. Just last month, an 80-year-old woman smashed into the Milos restaurant in the Village of Williamsville. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in that accident.

"It isn't again necessarily about their age. It could be medical issues they need to be talking to the physicians about. For example, losing sensitivity in their feet, and press the gas instead of the break. They are scared to talk to their doctors because they are afraid the next step is stopping them from driving," Donnelly said.

AAA officials said that is not true. There are many options for seniors and they said it is programs like this that help the elderly stay independent and on the road, safely.