This dynamic duo, Janet and Ed O’Connor of Carver, bring the best of their professional backgrounds to their volunteer positions with the AARP Driver Safety Program. Janet coordinates the program statewide, while Ed serves as a course instructor.
In Massachusetts, the AARP Driver Safety Program offers classroom courses across the state, taught by a dedicated corps of volunteers, who have helped thousands of drivers stay safe on the roads. The course is also available online.
Janet and Ed share their views about volunteering, and the AARP Driver Safety Program.
Why did you decide to volunteer with the AARP Driver Safety Program?
Janet: I have been retired for about four years; I started volunteering as the statewide coordinator for the AARP Driver Safety Program in Massachusetts only a few months ago. I worked for over 25 years in the education field, teaching at the Carver Elementary School and then later, I became a school administrator. I have degrees in Elementary Education, Curriculum Development, and School Administration. With my experience, I aim to, and will be pleased to, provide added communication and support for our volunteer instructors.
Ed: I was looking for something challenging to fill my extra time after retirement that would be helpful and satisfying. I worked for the local railroads that ran the Commuter Rail Service for the MBTA. I was a mechanic and worked up through the ranks, retiring as the Superintendent of Locomotive Repair. I am also the Executive Director of Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver, which is a volunteer organization that educates motorists about the dangers associated with highway/rail grade crossings. I think it fits perfectly with my role as an AARP Driver Safety Program classroom course instructor.
What is one of the most memorable moments from your volunteer work?
Janet: I was very excited to host my first state meeting. There are so many wonderful and talented people who are willing to volunteer their time and energy providing older drivers with valuable information that will make them safe drivers.
Ed: Having a 90-year-old woman come up to me after my first class and explain that she was at the class because her children told her that she should stop driving. She said the way I presented information about the changes in peripheral vision, hearing, vision and flexibility started her thinking that she was going to look into behind-the-wheel instruction. Two years later, she came to another class and said she did well behind the wheel but now she was ready to hang up the keys. She thanked me for giving her two more years of mobility.
Why should drivers participate in an AARP Driver Safety Program course?
Janet: All of us can learn something new, no matter how long we have been driving. We should continue to learn and grow, improving skills and refining good driving habits. In addition, cars are built differently now than when most of us started to drive. The course provides some updated information about driving and the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ regulations.
Ed: The course covers very important topics that are key to keeping drivers safe. Attendees will understand how their vehicles can help keep them safe, but new vehicle technology doesn’t overcome driver error. Drivers must keep themselves in good health and remain flexible so they can continue to drive safely.
Learn More about Volunteering with AARP
The AARP Driver Safety Program in Massachusetts needs your help! Want to get involved as a volunteer instructor or help promote the program and coordinate activities? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.