As students entered the community room at the Peabody Council on Aging, any anxiousness about sitting through a 5 hour driving course was eased as they greeted the instructor in a bright yellow jacket with a bright white smile.
Nancy Doherty became a volunteer instructor for AARP Driver Safety in 2004, after taking a course near her town. She appreciated the variety of people, personalities and age groups the course brought together, and decided to make AARP Driver Safety her next volunteer experience. Since then, Nancy has been teaching on-the-road tools to seniors across the state.
“The most valuable tip I teach is making a proper left hand turn,” said Nancy. “As you get older, your depth perception changes, so you may not realize the actual speed another car is driving. I teach them to wait a bit longer, ignore the honkers behind, and proceed when it is safe to turn.”
AARP Driver Safety courses are designed to help drivers age 50+ familiarize themselves with the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques, and how to operate vehicles more safely in today’s increasingly challenging driving environment.
Nancy has fostered a teaching style that keeps students engaged and attentive throughout class. During Nancy’s “Clap Test,” where she tells students to do as she does, she claps her hands, then waits for students to follow, explaining that this tests their reaction time. Her technique of controlling a skidding vehicle, which she demonstrates with a bright yellow toy car, keeps all eyes riveted to her attention.
“Oh my, I practice the tips in every move I make on the road,” she says. “Teaching teaches me the rules and driving imprints these rules in my brain. It goes hand-in-hand for a well-rounded, driving and teaching experience.”
As the nation’s first and largest driver safety course designed especially for older drivers, AARP Driver Safety has helped more than 14 million participants refresh their skills and stay safe on the road since 1979.
AARP members pay $12 to attend classroom sessions; nonmembers pay $14. Online classes in Spanish or English are $15.95 for AARP members, $19.95 for nonmembers.
Nancy takes pride in her commitment to help improve the driving habits of people who have been driving for 50 or more years.