Recharge your driving skills with AARP Driver Safety

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By Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts

Mike Festa

Spring is upon us! The warmer weather means more cars, bikes and pedestrians on our roads and it’s a great time to recharge your driving skills. For more than 30 years, AARP has helped to keep millions of drivers safe, educated and confident while on the road with the AARP Smart Driver course, the nation’s largest classroom and online driver safety course.  Based on the latest driver safety research and insights, the course is designed especially for drivers age 50 and older.  In fact, 97 percent of course participants say they’ve changed at least one driving behavior as a result of taking our course.

By taking the AARP Smart Driver Course, you’ll learn the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and how to operate your vehicle more safely in today’s increasingly challenging driving environment. You’ll learn how to manage common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time. You’ll hear about the safest ways to reduce driver distractions, deal with aggressive drivers, learn techniques for handling left turns, right-of-way, and navigating around rotaries, how to minimize blind spots, and proper use of the new technology found in newer cars.

In addition to learning safety strategies that can reduce the likelihood of a crash, you will learn how aging, medications, alcohol, and other health-related issues affect driving ability, and how to adjust driving accordingly to allow for these changes. The course also helps participants determine when it may not be best to drive (e.g., late at night, inclement weather, etc.) and how to plan for a time when driving is no longer an option.

AARP Driver Safety’s offerings include a classroom course, administered by a nationwide network of more than 4,000 volunteers, and an online course offered in both English and Spanish. The classroom course takes place at various host sites throughout the country, including libraries, hospitals, senior centers, churches, and recreational facilities.

AARP Driver Safety classroom course costs $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members.  The online course costs $19.95 for members and $24.95 for non-members.  Although the program is geared toward drivers 50 and older, licensed drivers of all ages are welcome to participate. There are no official tests to pass in order to graduate from the program.  To learn more about upcoming classes in Massachusetts, visit www.aarp.org/drive.

All components of the AARP Smart Driver classroom course have been translated and tested for Spanish and Chinese-speaking participants.

Smart DriverTEK​, one of ADS’s newest offerings, helps drivers understand current and evolving vehicle safety technologies, including how to use them and how they might enhance their driving safety and extend their safe driving years.

Also available are CarFit, an educational program designed to help older drivers find out how well their vehicles “fit” them, and We Need to Talk, an interactive online seminar that provides practical tips and advice on how to recognize when it’s time to limit or stop driving and how to discuss the topic with loved ones.​

Additionally, consider hosting a Smart Driver classroom course at your facility.  Participation as a host brings community members to your location and offers a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of older adults.  If you can provide a free room that holds up to 30 participants, and have a DVD player and television, you can be a Smart Driver course host!

For more information or to register for classes visit www.aarpdriversafety.org or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).  Contact AARP Massachusetts at 1-866-448-3621 or email at [email protected].  You may also visit our website at www.aarp.org/ma.