Centenarian’s advice won’t steer you wrong

2016_12-02_rar_blog_centenarians-advice-wont-steer-you-wrong-01Mary E. Cooper, 101, sits behind the wheel of her 2005 Hyundai in front of the North Michigan Park Recreation Center in Northeast Washington, DC on Aug. 9, 2012. Cooper often visits the recreation center to socialize and play cards with friends. (PHOTO BY COURTLAND MILLOY/TWP)

On her 101st birthday last week, Mary E. Cooper took me for a ride in her car. I am often flabbergasted by the way elderly people drive, and I couldn’t imagine someone born in 1911 being on the loose in Washington traffic.

I just had to see how she rolled.

“The good thing about me, I’m still very alert and know what’s happening around me,” Cooper said.

Of course she’d say that. When it comes to self-assessment of driving ability, nobody talks a better game than an elderly person. To hear the elderly tell it, the older they get, the better they drive. Anything to keep from giving up those car keys.

A study published in the September issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention found that 85 percent of Maryland drivers ages 65 to 91 rated their road skills as “excellent” or “good.” None thought of themselves as “poor” drivers, even if they had been in a crash.

 Cooper, it turns out, was not exaggerating. She’s a good driver, wears a seat belt, checks the mirrors and approaches intersections with extra caution.