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2010 Driver Safety Program Evaluation: A Comparison of Baseline and Follow-Up Findings

The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation’s first and largest classroom course for drivers age 50 and older. The program has served over ten million people since its inception in 1979. The program was created to encourage safe driving among people age 50 and older. The course teaches participants the effects of aging on driving behaviors and how to adjust driving behaviors to accommodate for these changes.

In the past, the Driver Safety Program course has been evaluated via a mail survey among a sample of graduates after they complete the course. Behavior change was assessed during these evaluations; however, there were no baseline findings to compare the results to. In 2010, baseline surveys were collected among a sample of participants before they took the course to learn about their driving behaviors before being exposed to the course.

The purpose of this survey was to re-assess participants’ driving behaviors as well as knowledge of course retention approximately one month after they completed the AARP Driver Safety Program Course (Wave 2).

Key findings included:

  • Almost all of the participants (97%) indicated that they have changed at least one key driving behavior as a result of what they learned in the AARP Driver Safety Program course.
  • The percentage of participants who drive daily decreased from the baseline to follow-up period. This finding was especially true among drivers age 65 and older.
  • As a result of the course, many participants are engaging in self-policing behaviors. For example, significant differences were found in the number of participants who reported always limiting their driving at night (14% at baseline vs. 21% during the follow-up), in bad weather (16% at baseline vs. 24% at follow-up), and on highways/freeways (10% vs. 12%).
  • Classroom participants, women, and older participants reported more self-policing behaviors (e.g., limiting long-distance driving, limiting driving at night) than online participants, men, and younger participants.
  • Health status plays a significant role in driving behavior. During both evaluation periods, those with a poorer health status drove less often. In addition, participants who rated their health as good, fair, or poor said they drove less often than they did during their baseline evaluation (44% drove daily at baseline compared to only 35% during the follow-up survey).
  • The percentage of participants who correctly answered the course content questions increased, some dramatically, from the baseline to follow-up period. For example, during the baseline evaluation 37% of participants were able to identify the most common traffic violation among older people compared to 56% during the follow-up evaluation.
  • Experience with the AARP course was positive. More than eight in ten (83%) participants said they would be likely to take the course again. Seven in ten (71%) participants reported that the course met their expectations to a great extent and 88% felt the course was worthwhile.

Data for this study were obtained via a sample of 1,228 participants who took the AARP Driver Safety Course in the fall of 2010. Responses were divided between 460 classroom participants and 668 online participants. Classroom participants’ data were obtained via a mail survey and online participants’ data were obtained via a web-based survey. Both classroom and online participants were invited to participate in this follow-up study approximately one month after completing the course. Follow-up surveys were collected on a rolling basis beginning December 1, 2010 and ending March 1, 2011. Responses were received from 1,128 participants. For more information, please contact Laura Skufca at 202-434-6285.

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