AARP has been involved in driver -improvement education since 1969. AARP Driver Safety has continued to evolve, with numerous curriculum revisions. The current Smart Driver course is based upon a significant amount of driver safety and transportation research. Course content and materials were evaluated by a National Older Driver Panel, consisting of representatives from a number of organizations including the American Occupational Therapy Association, Federal Highway Administration, Governors Highway Safety Association, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, MIT AgeLab and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nearly 15 million participants have completed the classroom course which is led by AARP-trained volunteer instructors in all 50 states. In Georgia, the six-hour course is taught at various host locations that provide the space and audio visual equipment needed to conduct the course. In addition to learning valuable information and safety strategies, completing the course also saves participants money. In more than 30 states, including Georgia, auto insurance carriers are required by law to provide course participants a multi-year discount. State law in Georgia requires insurance companies to give those drivers 25 or older who have completed the Smart Driver Course a 10 percent discount on motor vehicle liability, first party medical and collision insurance for a period of three years.
One question Paul Galanek, Smart Driver instructor, said he encounters is if people have been driving for many years, what can they benefit from a driver safety course?
“Things have changed drastically in the past 30 to 40 years; roads have changed, you can look at Cartersville, Woodstock, Marietta and certainly Atlanta. Signage, intersections, round abouts all have changed. Cars and technology also have changed. All this results in a need for people to refresh themselves,” Galanek said. “Many of us have been doing the same things over and over again for 30 years. This course helps people learn the best and safest techniques for driving today amid the changes.”
Registration is required for these courses and there is a nominal fee set by the national office; class fees, which include a participant guidebook, are $20 per person; AARP members receive a discounted price of $15. The course is open to all licensed drivers 25 and older; under this age, individuals should check with their insurance company to determine if they will be provided the multi-year discount.
Galanek has the following dates and locations scheduled for the Smart Driver course:
• Wednesday, Feb. 12 Bartow County Senior Center, 33 Beavers Drive, Cartersville
•Thursday, Feb., 20 Faith United Methodist Church, 501 Grassdale Road, Cartersville
•Wednesday, Aug. 20 Bartow County Senior Center, 33 Beavers Drive, Cartersville
He hopes to have at least two more classes in Cartersville scheduled later in the year. Galanek also conducts classes in the Canton/Woodstock area; for those in need of another date, he may be able to make accommodations or provide additional options. Any business that is interested in hosting a course with no expense other than providing space and equipment or people wanting to register for upcoming courses should call Galanek at 770-591-0347.