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Changing of the Guard for State DSP

Betty Hutson from Arnold will assume the State Coordinator position for the AARP Driver Safety Program (DSP) in Missouri on January 1. Hutson replaces Quentin Ruchte who served as state coordinator and completed his volunteer tenure.

See Also: Should You Take a Driver Safety Class?

The DSP course covers topics such as defensive driving techniques, new traffic laws, and rules of the road. Participants learn how to operate their vehicle more safely in today's increasingly challenging driving environment, as well as how to make adjustments to accommodate common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time.

Hutson became a DSP volunteer in 2003 after attending a classroom course and seeing the value of the program. She began her DSP adventure as an instructor and later became a Zone Coordinator for Zone 6, which includes the counties of Jefferson, St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren and Franklin.

Priorities for the DSP in Missouri are to:

  • Increase DSP visibility to AARP members and non-members
  • Increase the number of individuals that take the DSP courses
  • Increase the number of host organizations where DSP courses are held
  • Increase the number of DSP classroom course instructors throughout the state

To join the DSP team of volunteers who help keep our roadways safer, the first step is to complete a volunteer application. Step two is to meet with the Zone Coordinator in your area to discuss requirements of the volunteer position and learn the responsibilities of an instructor. Following that meeting, the volunteer receives training from the Chief Instructor. Once a volunteer is appointed as a DSP instructor, he/she must facilitate a minimum of three courses per year.

What you gain by becoming a volunteer:

  • Knowledge that you're contributing to the health, safety, and well-being of yourself and others
  • Increased self-esteem by giving back to your community and keeping the roads safe for all
  • The appreciation of the people you help
  • The opportunity to learn new skills
  • A new social network of AARP Driver Safety Program participants and other volunteers

Individuals interested in becoming a DSP volunteer should send an email to aarpmo@aarp.org.

Hutson is dedicated to the DSP because she has seen the positive results of the program. She cites for example, a recent study of 1200 course attendees showed that 97 percent reported that they have changed at least one key driving behavior. Additionally, the study found that 79 percent of the participants felt that information they learned in the course prevented them from being in an accident.

After retiring from the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (MEAA) as Senior Center Administrator in Arnold, Hutson became a community volunteer. She volunteers with the VFW Auxiliary, the Cooties Auxiliary, the American Legion Auxiliary, Eagles Auxiliary, and is the Volunteer Programs Coordinator for NARFE (National Association of Retired Federal Employees) of Jefferson County.

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