Some senior citizens curious about driving simulator but shy about using it
Appeal Staff Writer
Joseph Coniglio, a former taxi driver in New York City, says his driving skills are as good as ever. And he’s 93.
“I’ve got a Dodge Stratus with 41,000 miles on it out there,” he said nodding his head toward the Carson City Senior Center parking lot. “I haven’t put a scratch on it yet. I’ve never had an accident in it. I’ve never bumped anyone. Yes, I call myself a good driver.”
Coniglio was one of a half-dozen people in the lobby of the Carson City Senior Center on Friday checking out the driving simulator brought by Carson City resident and driver-safety advocate Ron Kendall.
The driving simulator allows people to practice braking and accelerating when objects come into their paths, to practice turns in intersections with pedestrians and practice responding when being tail-gated.
“I think a lot of people and a lot of kids think they are excellent drivers,” Kendall said. “It’s an attitude thing.”
While Coniglio drives the speed limit, he knows of many people who don’t and said that they are the major risks on the roadway – not seniors citizens.
“The thing I see today is people drive too fast,” he said. “A lot of them, they’ll cut you off. A lot of them, they’ll pass you when they should stay behind. I see a lot of that. They drive too fast in the first place.”
Since late last year, the driving simulator has been used in driver education courses at Western Nevada Community College.
After recovering from a seizure several years ago, Kendall discovered the simulator, made by a Hawthorne, Calif., company called Systems Technology Inc. Now, he wants to use it as part of American Association of Retired Persons “55 Alive” Driver Safety program.
“(This is) kind of the tip of the iceberg to just have some seniors stop and look at it,” he said. “The fact that quite a few came through and looked at it means the word will get around.”
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Nick Nordyke came as a public representative of the Highway Patrol and stayed for the entire three-hour session in the senior center lobby Friday.
“I definitely think it’s a good tool,” he said. “You can never have enough training when it comes to driving. And if you have an accident (on this), you don’t hurt somebody. It’s a great tool for drivers.”
Even Coniglio thinks so, although he didn’t try the simulator, which tracks data, like hard braking, excessive cornering, centerline crossings, and even vehicle collisions, off-road accidents and pedestrians hit.
“They should have more people receiving driver’s education training,” he said. “They could use something like this.”
n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.