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Making New York Driving Safer for All

Volunteers help aging drivers stay skilled behind the wheel and get a discount on car insurance

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In addition to teaching, Eskander is one of eight volunteer deputy state coordinators for Driver Safety. His duties include recruiting and mentoring instructors and finding facilities to host classes, such as libraries and churches.

"The more people I reach, the more satisfaction and pleasure I get," he said.

For decades, Theresa Pellegrino, 80, of Cheektowaga, has regularly taken the Driver Safety refresher course for the insurance discount. But she also enjoys it.

"Once I'm there, I find out different things I'm doing wrong."

At a recent class she took from Richard Alessi, also of Cheektowaga, Pellegrino learned that, if possible, she was supposed to move over one lane when another car is merging onto the highway to make way for a car merging from a ramp.

Pellegrino's experience is common. "After the class, a lot of people come up and tell me that I've taught them things that they had forgotten," said Alessi, 78, a retired materials engineer. In his 22 years with the Driver Safety program, he has taught more than 12,400 participants in 460 classes.

Alessi also became a volunteer after taking the Driver Safety course. He is also a district coordinator, responsible for training new instructors, processing paperwork and handling expenses.

In New York, the Driver Safety class costs $17 for AARP members and $19 for nonmembers. This November, classroom courses are free to veterans and their families and half-price for online courses.

Online classes in Spanish or English are $23.95 for AARP members; $27.95 for nonmembers. You can find out about an AARP Driver Safety session in your area by entering your ZIP code online at the AARP Driver Safety Course Locator page or call 888-227-7669 toll-free.

Donna Jackel is a freelance journalist who lives in Rochester, N.Y.

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