• Jan 16th 2014 at 12:40PM
  • 10
Everyone can use a refresher now and then (Getty Images... Everyone can use a refresher now and then (Getty Images).
Cars and transportation infrastructure are ever-evolving, as they're constantly being updated to reflect new technologies, strategies and laws. While that's generally a good thing, making us safer and more efficient drivers, it can often be hard for people, especially seniors (aged 55 and older), to keep up.

AARP is helping to bring drivers up to speed with its revamped Smart Driver course, a national refresher course available in classrooms and online. The class, which has been around for over 30 years, was recently overhauled in order to improve the areas in which older drivers are weakest behind the wheel.

"The last time the course was refreshed was in 2005," said Julie Lee, AARP Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety. "A lot has changed in the past ten years. There are more distractions in our vehicles and the roads have been reshaped. We want people to be able to stay behind the wheel for as long as possible. The Smart Driver refresher course can help them do that."

A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that seniors tend to struggle with the basics. For instance, according to the data a third of all fatal crashes involving seniors occur at intersections, 35 percent of all traffic violations involving seniors are because of the failure to yield the proper right-of-way and one in four traffic violations involving seniors involves making an improper left turn.

The course is taught nationwide either online or in-person. For a small fee ($15 for AARP members, $20 for non-members), drivers are educated on the basics of driving and three new areas: The individual (i.e. how medication can affect your ability to drive), changes in transportation infrastructure (i.e. the increase in roundabouts) and in-vehicle technology (i.e. smart headlights, lane departure warnings, etc.).

In-person classes can also cover state and local issues, such as area-specific driving laws and navigating places of heavy traffic or new infrastructure.

"We're finding that people are often hanging up their keys too early," said Lee. "That can bring up a number of issues they don't necessarily have to be facing, such as isolation." Some seniors may think that they aren't physically capable of driving, she said, when in fact all they really need is an update on how driving has evolved.

The course does discuss the physical limitations that aging places on driving, with a section that talks about how to know when it's time to hang up the keys. But since everyone ages at different rates, Lee said, it's not a main focus of the course. The curriculum encourages people to have their sight and hearing checked and also includes some pointers on staying flexible enough to drive.

The course doesn't just help seniors, either, Lee explained.

"We're finding that grandparents are taking their grandchildren who are just learning to drive," she said. "They've found it to be a valuable asset."

For more information or to find a course near you, head over to aarp.org/drive. Taking the class makes you eligible for an insurance discount.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Norma and Bob
      • 1 Year Ago
      I agree with all of U for the most part any way. AARP is a big fraud they are NOT for seniors they are for their selfs only and not for us SENIORS just ins. company's politains. I do not agree with "gsg45jg" tho. I am 88 yrs old nearly 89 and I do still drive and not one of these little cars. I drive and older model of a SUV use to drive a truck and pull a large fifth wheel for a few years as my husband was not able to drive due to his loss of vision and his poor health. The best thing to do is to teach these young people to drive right as most of them are a big cause of accidents.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What I don't like.... If I have absolutely tickets, no accidents, etc.. Then in my opinion, this points out that I have good driving skills! Yet, insurance just drive up your rates for no reason. Then they tell me to go take a Good Driver Course to lower my rate and I am like, excuse me? You can see for yourself by looking at the screen on your computer, that I have no absolutely NO ACCIDENTS or NO TICKETS!!! And you say I should take a Good Drivers Course to lower my rates? This has been going on for years. And I just recently turned 55. I refuse to take a course, when the proof is right in front of their eyes.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Joined AAP, glad I did, they stand up against those crooks, Republicans, trying to take my SS away after I have worked 40+ yrs. yes we vote, every election
        • 1 Year Ago
        This is a scare tactic the dems have used for years. Repubs do not want to take away your Social Security. It is the dems who want to CUT it. (This is why you have three down votes on your comment.) Join AMAC. It is far better than AARP, which pushed obamacare and is now making millions off of it bt selling insurance. They are wolves in sheeps' clothing.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish AARP would leave our seniors alone. They enjoy periodically running over pedestrians and driving their vehicles with "stuck gas pedals" thru plate glass windows....What fun!
      • 1 Year Ago
      AArp is a fraud. It is a "for profit" front of the Democratic party.. The one's running it are not seniors. They take advantage of seniors. Remember your dues are paying Democratic supporters and campaigns for Liberals.
      G2 Services, Ltd
      • 1 Year Ago
      I joined AARP to get health care thru Aetna. AARP supported Obamacare strongly and then last summer we got the dear john letter saying that the policy was DOA at the end of the year. Needless to say I didn't renew my AARP.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Commie lying and corrupt org. if there ever was one. They stand to make billions off of Obamacare, helping it get shoved down the throats of Americans for profit is BS. They are nothing but an advertizing agency for the insurance industry and they should be paying taxes....
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seniors should be VERY CAREFUL in taking this course, as it is suggested that AARP may use this course to gather personal information or to attempt to sell more insurance to the captive audience that it brings in. Children of seniors should caution them NOT to sign anything while in the AARP course. Given the deceptive politicking that AARP did to pass ObamaCare, and from which they are expected to garner BILLIONS in income, everyone should be careful....
      • 1 Year Ago
      AARP is mainly a front for United Health Care insurance co. They lie right along with obama to cipher more and more dollars from their naive membership. Stay clear of AARP
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