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Extreme Montana Weather Means Extreme Driving Conditions

Montana is known for its weather extremes. As a matter of fact, Montana tops the list as the most extreme weather temperature state in the United States at 187 degrees. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Montana is 117 degrees which occurred on July 5, 1937 at Medicine Lake and the coldest temperature ever recorded in Montana is -70 degrees which occurred on January 20, 1954 at Rogers Pass.

The extent of Montana’s climatic variations is due in large part to the state’s range in elevation of from 1,800 feet above sea level where the Kootenai River enters Idaho to 12,799 feet at Granite Peak near Yellowstone Park.
Extreme weather variations mean extreme driving conditions. Add heavy snows throughout West and Central Montana and high winds on the Plains and state roadways become a force to be reckoned with.

“Our winters of wind, rain, ice and snow require drivers of all ages to be especially vigilant,” said Ray Harbin, Volunteer Montana State Coordinator for the AARP Driver Safety Program. “Now’s the ideal time to review safe driving skills and check out the many available programs and resources – like a driving safety refresher or assessment.”

“Driving requires a wide range of skills, including movement, attention and vision, which can become more challenging with age. Since active, independent living is an important part of all of our lives, it’s necessary to know our abilities and take precautions to stay safe while driving,” said Bob Bartholomew, AARP Montana State Director.

Be Safe and Save

The AARP Driver Safety Program helps individuals retain their driving competencies and retain their driving privileges while promoting an understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home.

Older Montana drivers now have a resource that can help, and potentially save them money too. Last year AARP Montana announced that the Montana Department of Transportation Director, Jim Lynch certified the AARP Driver Safety Program as a valid highway traffic safety program. This means that both online and classroom course participants can keep driving skills current and may be eligible for insurance discounts. While both are geared for drivers age 50 and older, the courses are open to people of any age. The online course can be completed at a participant’s own pace and in their own home or office.

The courses provide tips on: negotiating busy intersections and defensive driving skills; understanding new car safety technologies like anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and air bags; and reviews current traffic laws as well as ways to handle road rage. They also examine the changes in vision, hearing, flexibility and reaction times often associated with normal aging, and provide practical techniques on how to make adjustments and remain safe on the road.

“It’s important for older drivers across Montana to tune up our driving skills – whether online or in a classroom setting,” said Harbin.

Wanted: A Few Good Volunteers

More than 9,000 volunteers nationwide deliver, manage, and promote the AARP Driver Safety Program at the local level. Some of the many positions available are volunteer instructors, who teach the course; volunteer coordinators, who manage the Driver Safety program in specific locations; and volunteer marketing specialists, who promote the program and coordinate activities.

At the local level, the AARP Driver Safety Program is one of the best examples of a hands-on community service. The program is taught and administered by a nationwide network of volunteers trained by AARP. All over the country, people are helping their communities by sharing information about safe strategies for managing today's increasingly challenging driving environment.

“I would urge anyone who is interested to look into becoming an AARP Driver Safety volunteer,” said Bartholomew. “As a volunteer, you get to contribute to the safety and wellness of others in your community. You also have the chance to develop new friendships and new experiences. With the help of volunteers, we can make the AARP Driver Safety Program available to all who want to maintain their driving skills and extend their mobility.”

For more information on AARP Driver Safety, read car safety tips or learn the 10 warning signs that indicate someone should begin to limit driving or to stop altogether. Find out about other AARP programs, including how to intervene when it’s no longer safe to drive and how to properly fit in your car, or find out more about becoming an AARP Driver Safety volunteer.

The classroom course costs only $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. The cost for the online course is $15.95 for AARP members and $19.95 for nonmembers. Find in-class locations, times, and dates online or call 866-231-0216 toll-free.

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