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Wanted: Driver Safety Instructors

AARP Michigan is sounding the call for volunteer instructors to help motorists update their driving skills through AARP’s Driver Safety Program.

Instructors are needed everywhere, from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula, said Karen Kafantaris, AARP Michigan associate state director for community outreach.

“We need about 100 volunteers from all over the state,” she said.

The volunteer driving instructor is a valuable community resource who helps keep seniors mobile and active and makes the roads safer for everyone, said Jess Gibbs, a volunteer deputy state coordinator for the Michigan program.

“Our instructors have unquestionably brought a treasure trove of information to senior drivers,” Gibbs said. “We re-familiarize drivers with tips and tricks that allow them to drive longer and safer.”

Instruction includes a refresher course on navigating intersections, and right-of-way situations, how to execute a proper left turn and making lane changes.

“These account for 75 percent of the ticketed violations committed by senior drivers,” Gibbs said.

“The impact of aging – slowed reaction times, vision and hearing changes and medicine interactions – all play a role in how long a person can drive safely and responsibly,” he said.

The classes have an added consumer benefit: Auto insurance companies can offer discounts to those who complete the training. The AARP Michigan course is among those approved by the State of Michigan for the insurance discount program. Participants should check with their own auto insurers to find out whether they offer the discount.

“This has had a positive impact on the size of our classes,” Gibbs said. “But clearly, it’s not just the discount that attracts seniors to take the classes. The main draw is the helpful information presented.”

Senior motorists who have graduated from the course sing its praises, said Kafantaris, who oversees the program for AARP Michigan.

“Participants tell me they feel they are safer drivers and they feel more secure when they are behind the wheel after having taken the course,” she said. “They especially appreciate the information provided on how to navigate roundabouts.”

Those interested in volunteering to be driving instructors can call 800-493-5970 or send an email to louwill55@yahoo.com.

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