Benefits include not only a refresher on driving techniques to deal with increased traffic and changes in road rules but possible discounts on auto insurance and roadside assistance plans. (This writer’s insurance premium was reduced $80 after taking the four-hour class.)
“If one student says he or she learned something, or they’re going to implement something, it’s worthwhile,” said Marilyn Yeager, one of 27 Driver Safety volunteer instructors in Hawaii.
Growing up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the 71-year-old Japanese-Caucasian woman said her family always volunteered. “My only remaining Japanese uncle…said volunteering was a way of life.”
Yeager left a property management company in California about 15 years ago to come to the Islands. “I didn’t know a soul in Hawaii, never been here, and came to manage property I never set foot on. I love it here,” she said.
She heard about the AARP Driver Safety course, took the class and then went through training to become an instructor.
Last year more than 1,200 Islanders took the program – 840 in classrooms and the rest online. Hawaii has nearly 390,000 drivers age 50 and older, but while the course is geared for older drivers, it’s open to people of all ages.
It used to be an eight-hour course, Yeager said, “but I think four hours is long enough.” She always passes out evaluation sheets so students can tell her what they liked or didn’t like. “I love the feedback,” she said, “because it benefits me for the next course.”
In a sampling of comments, students praised the program as “enjoyable” with “updated information, and “great reference materials.” One person wrote the course “inspired me to improve my driving ability, my physical fitness and flexibility.”
Yeager urges every student to contact their insurance company about a discount on their premium. Some companies don’t offer a discount, she said, adding that the goal is to push for premium reductions for everyone in Hawaii who takes the course.
Yeager does presentations about the driver safety program to various organizations and also volunteers for AARP’s CarFit event, which offers a 12-point check list to help mature drivers adjust their vehicles for maximum safety and comfort. The next event is scheduled on September 14 (8 a.m. – noon) at Kaimuki High School. Make an appointment online or call 545-6003.
Yeager is also a reader at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and a member of the Executive Office on Aging’s Senior Medicare Patrol, which educates seniors about fraud and abuse of people on Medicare. “We do skits and tell people don’t be taken in by all these scams,” she said. She’s also involved with T.A.G. (Totally Against Graffiti) doing graffiti and trash cleanups.
When she isn’t volunteering, she likes to do weights and hosts “a little TV show” about unsung heroes on Olelo Community Television. “I’m very blessed because I just enjoy life,” Yeager said.
This article was written by AARP Hawaii Communications Volunteer Helen Altonn.