In 1979, AARP founded “55 Alive” to help keep older drivers independent, safe and confident while on the road. While its mission hasn’t changed since then, many other things have, including the program name.
Today, AARP Driver Safety continues to meet the needs of older drivers through educational programs led by more than 4,000 volunteers and myriad resources. But they aren’t the same programs and resources that were available nearly 35 years ago. AARP Driver Safety has continued to evolve with the times, delivering on AARP’s goal to promote the independence of older Americans and enhance their quality of life.
On Jan. 1, 2014, AARP Driver Safety launched the new and improved AARP Smart Driver™ Course, the nation’s largest driving refresher course.
Why a new course?
A lot has changed since AARP Driver Safety first began as “55 Alive.” The roads have changed. Cars and the technology inside them have changed. Even the people behind the wheel have changed. As drivers, if we don’t keep up with those changes we put others and ourselves at risk.
To help with AARP Driver Safety’s efforts to keep up with these changes, Toyota gave the AARP Foundation a three-year, $12.6 million grant to invest in and improve the quality of education and resources available to older drivers. Through the grant, AARP Driver Safety was able to collaborate with the nation’s top experts in mobility, aging, technology, and vehicle and driver safety to develop AARP Smart Driver Course. It also worked with its nationwide team of volunteers to ensure that the new course would be as effective as possible.
How is the AARP Smart Driver Course different?
The new and improved course curriculum was designed with the participant in mind, and it is different in many ways from previous editions including:
- A completely new, easy-to-follow format that incorporates adult-learning principles, features reader-friendly print types, full-color pages, an easy-to-follow format and videos to supplement course content.
- New opportunities for participants to learn state-specific information throughout the course in a way that is easy to access and understand
- All components of the AARP Smart Driver Course have been translated and tested for Spanish-speaking participants
As a result of evidence-based research findings, the course has been adjusted to include a focus on areas where older drivers could benefit from additional training, including:
- Pavement markings
- Stop-sign compliance
- Red-light running
- Safety issues such as speeding, and seatbelt and turn-signal use
In addition to a new curriculum, AARP Driver Safety recently launched the Driving Resource Center — an interactive online resource for course participants that features tools and activities, including driving simulations, state-specific rules of the road and new vehicle technologies.
Sign up to take the new AARP Smart Driver Course
The AARP Smart Driver Course is now being taught by thousands of volunteers across the country. Use our Course Locator to find a class being taught near you.