One specific: After learning about the high rate of left-turn injury accidents among older drivers, course participants proceeded with greater caution through left turns.
You think you remember, but do you?Most who take the AARP driving course are in their early or mid-70s, although the course is open to drivers of any age. Some attend with their teenage grandchildren, and it's unclear who is dragging whom. "When we start, I'll ask, 'What's the difference between a yellow line and a white line?' " says Harold Sterling, an instructor in Illinois. "And everyone says, 'You can't pass on a yellow line.' " "No, think about it," he tells them. Once, in a neighborhood watch meeting, he saw the local police chief lean over and ask his traffic commander, "What's the answer?" "I almost broke out laughing," Sterling says. "I say, 'See, everyone thought they knew the right answer, and no one did. It's other things just like that.' " Sterling formerly served with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Now 72, he has taught some 120 courses since retirement, all as a volunteer. He tells students they are relearning how to drive safely. "Quite often, they'll ask me right back: 'How do I know what I've forgotten?' It's a good question," he says. "Then as we go through class, you'll see the light bulb go on." The AARP revamped its course this year after consulting with gerontologists, driving experts, even scientists at the MIT Age Lab. Where did older drivers need the most help? Some of the results were surprising: a review of the basics should be included. A person turning 65 today is one of 10,000 baby boomers to do so. When they were born, the U.S. Interstate system didn't exist. They took driver's ed some 50 years ago. Drivers have since become more distracted, freeways more crowded.
After taking a defensive driver course, 97 percent report to AARP that they changed at least one driving behavior.