The cars we drive are getting smarter. So is AARP’s safe-driver course.
The AARP initiative that has helped older drivers stay safe, educated and confident behind the wheel since 1979 debuted its new AARP Smart Driver™ Course this month. The course is now available throughout Florida in both a classroom setting, led by certified volunteer instructors, and online.
Why should Florida drivers be interested in refreshing their skills? Automobile technology, traffic laws and the entire driving landscape have changed dramatically in the 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years since many Florida drivers received their driver’s licenses.
“Everyone can benefit from a refresher course that helps them stay current with the rules of the road,” said Julie E. Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety. “And as the number of older drivers increase, it’s critical that we optimize the driving experience for capable older adults by helping them become more confident, knowledgeable drivers. Doing so can reduce social isolation issues and negative financial costs associated with crashes, while making the roads safer for all.”
In Florida, the safe-driving program offers nearly 3,000 courses per year, taught by about 550 volunteer instructors and graduating more than 47,000 people.
AARP Smart Driver Course: The New & Improved Curriculum
AARP has long known that its driving refresher course makes a positive difference. A recent poll showed that 97 percent of participants changed at least one key driving behavior after taking the course. But, in an effort to further validate its effectiveness and evolve the course with the changing driving landscape, AARP partnered with the Eastern Virginia Medical School to conduct a research study that started in 2011.
The results highlighted areas of opportunity in which older drivers could benefit from additional training such as: managing roundabouts, pavement markings, stop-sign compliance, and safety issues such as speeding, seatbelt and turn signal use.
In addition to learning safety strategies that can reduce the likelihood of a crash, participants of the new course will learn how aging, medications, 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 be best not to drive (e.g., late at night, inclement weather, etc.) and how to plan for a time when driving is no longer an option.
In addition to research, the new AARP Smart Driver Course was developed with input from a National Older Driver Safety Expert Panel, chaired by Dr. Joseph Coughlin of MIT AgeLab.
Designed with the participant in mind, the AARP Smart Driver Course also incorporates adult learning principles, and the classroom course guidebook features reader-friendly print types, full-color pages, an easy-to-follow format and supplemental course videos.
With 19 areas of customization, the course is tailored to meet the needs of participants by providing Florida-specific information that is easy to access and understand.
Benefits of Taking the AARP Smart Driver Course
In Florida, participants may be eligible for a multi-year auto insurance discount upon course completion]. Participants are encouraged to check with their insurance agent for details about the type of discounts they can receive by taking the course.
For more information or to find a course, visit www.aarp.org/ADS2014 or call 1-888-227-7669. The course is open to drivers of all ages, and AARP membership is not required to take the course.