How to become a “Smart Driver,” should be a new learning tool for seniors in 2020. If you’re over 50 and a little education behind the wheel is in your cards, the local senior centers are here for you.
This month, the AARP Smart Driver class is being offered at the White Rock Senior Center from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9.
The 4-hour course is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. The course is open to those 50 years of age and over.
This month’s instructor Kim Thomas began teaching it after more than 30 years working with youth and adults through refereeing in soccer.
“I decided it was time to start volunteering in the senior community and thought that my soccer teaching experience might transfer well to presenting the AARP Smart Driver course,” said Thomas. “I want to help all of us seniors adapt to changes in ourselves, in road design and vehicle technologies so we can drive as safely as possible for as long as possible and I’ve learned a couple of new ways to drive more safely myself.”
Thomas can tell from head nods and the widening of eyes when a point is driven home that students understand something they hadn’t realized before the class. Nine out of 10 participants change at least one driving behavior after the course. She believes that students appreciate the new and updated techniques that aid in safer driving.
“There is more to take into consideration than the safe following distance, setting mirrors and judging tire wear, that many of us were taught so many years ago. There is also valuable information about new vehicle safety enhancements and technologies,” she said.
According to Thomas, the course is specifically geared toward folks over 50 and not your standard high school version of driver safety.
The focus is on effective safe-driving practices, skills and strategies you can use on the road every day, defensive driving techniques to help you deal with aggressive drivers, local laws and traffic rules for drivers, vehicle maintenance and more.
“This course can help boost safety awareness, refresh and improve driving skills, minimize crash risk, increase confidence, prolong mobility, and maintain independence,” Thomas said.
Seating is limited to 20 students and those interested can call (505) 662-8920 to register.