Recently my insurance agent told me if a driver takes a mature driving class from AARP and other vendors, they can probably get a discount on their automobile insurance. This is true in many states but depends upon the state and the insurance company. I signed up for this class and took it this week.
The instructor is a volunteer. He covered the many changes in laws and automobiles in the past few years. I haven’t taken drivers’ education since high school. I didn’t realize there were new sign shapes and colors ( Such as pink! For “incident management). Also new cars have many safety and convenience features that older cars didn’t have. For instance, the driver’s seat and steering wheel adjust to allow shorter drivers to reach the pedals without jamming ourselves against the steering wheel. Antilock brakes are used differently than the older type – don’t pump them.
And there are new laws about moving over for emergency vehicles of any type, not just police and fire trucks. It would probably be a good idea to get a new drivers’ manual from the DMV every few years just to keep up with changes in the law.
In our state, this course may also be taken by younger drivers who want to remove up to 4 points from their driving record. The course runs for 6 hours in 2 3-hour sessions. One thing we learned was that vision and hearing deteriorate gradually as we age. Beginning at age 40 – yes, really at age 40, there is some reduction in our ability to see and hear as well as when we were younger. The instructions detail how an older driver might compensate for reduced physical abilities to continue to drive safely.
The course materials also point out issues that a driver may notice that should be a hint to stop driving at night or to stop driving totally. For those who worry about mom and dad’s driving skills, this might be a good alternative to start with, rather than immediately trying to take away their keys.
The last unit in the course is called “Knowing when to choose to retire from driving”. Basically there are check off questions and a scoring scheme to suggest that you stop driving or get help with some skills. For instance you might decide to stop driving at night or on the freeways. But it also suggests if you can’t remember to check traffic at intersections or get confused making left turns, or if you get lost on familiar roads, it might be time to look for alternative means of transportation.
If you are concerned about older parents driving abilities, you might tell them that insurance companies in many states will reduce premiums for older drivers by 10% for 3 years upon proof of completion of this course. That is, if you currently pay about $800 per year, you can save $80 per year for 3 years – a total of over $200 just for taking this 6 hour course. After 3 years, you can take the course again and continue to receive the price reduction.
Anyone over age 50 can take this class and obtain a reduction in insurance premiums. It is well worth your time or your parents’ time to take the class. And this might help you find a starting point to begin talking about when to stop driving all together. In fact, the section on when to stop driving – might be a good start for a discussion with your parents. You might even suggest taking the class with your parents and perhaps going to lunch after class. You can then discuss the day’s lessons and see if your elderly parents notice how it might point to issues in their own driving habits.
AARP teaches this course in every state. The cost of the program is lowest of any course available. I learned in my class today that some health insurance plans even pay the course fees such as some Medicare Advantage Plans,