Larry Leichner, 64, of Lithia is just one of many senior residents who after hearing of the benefits of the driver safety course offered by AARP,  has decided to sign up for one of the upcoming classes offered throughout Hillsborough County.

Since its inception in 1958,  American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has become known as an organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life to people 50 and over by delivering value to members by providing a wide range of unique benefits, special products and services.

One such program that reaches out to seniors for the three decades. So far serving more than ten million people is AARP’s  Driver Safety Training course. This program has been holding the status of being the oldest, largest and most respected driver safety programs in the country.

The program was created to encourage safe driving by teaching participants the effects of aging on driving behaviors and how to best adjust to these driving behaviors.

“Our goal is to improve defensive driving techniques and keep us all safer on our roads,” said AARP Driver Safety Program Instructor and Trainer Mary Jane Tovey. “The more people are aware of the classes that are available, the better.”

The course costs $12 for AARP members or $14 for non-members. It claims to be worth every penny as it is designed by professionals and based on statistics taken from accident, police, and insurance reports and data.

“In the six hour course you will learn the most frequent causes of traffic accidents and ways to avoid them,” Tovey said, and added that the class allows senior drivers a chance to do some self assessments and see if there are some easy, common sense ways to make them better and safer drivers.

The course consists of movies featuring doctors, police officers, truck drivers, therapists and other professionals. There is also a great section demonstrating scenes from crash testing programs, all of which make the course not only effective, but also interesting.

AARP reported that almost all of the participants (97 percent) indicated that they have changed at least one key driving behavior as a result of what they learned in the AARP Driver Safety Program course. Classroom participants, women and older participants reported more self-policing behaviors such as  limiting long-distance driving and limiting driving at night.

Hearing about the course and its benefits, Lithia resident Larry Leichner, 64, expressed his interest in signing up for a class when he said, “Besides the educational aspects of the course, savings on my car insurance sounds good to me.”  

Putting prospective members or new students like, Leichner at ease, district program coordinator for Sun City Center,
Apollo Beach, Ruskin and Wimauma, Lou Tovey, emphasized that the course is all voluntary with no pass or fail tests.
“No one will take away your license,” Lou said., but added, “Even the best drivers can use a refresher class to keep up to date on new technology and laws. You will also learn that there are alternatives to driving if you no longer feel comfortable in certain situations.”

Driver safety classes are offered at dozens of convenient locations all over Hillsborough County, all led by volunteers, certified by AARP and the Florida State Department of Transportation, which in turn allows participants to qualify for discounts on their auto insurance. 

Florida law requires insurance companies to give a three-year discount to participants over  50 unless they are cited for a moving violation.

“AARP truly appreciates the centers that offer the free use of their facilities for this public service,” Tovey said.

For more information about AARP, or the driver safety program and course class locations please visit
. Reservations can be made by calling 645-8481.

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