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Volunteer Driver Safety Instructor Takes the Wheel

Doug Masson teaches driving with confidence, caution in Vermont

VT Drivers Safety

Sarah Rice

En español | Navigating a car through Vermont snow can be hard enough for any motorist. Enter Doug Masson, 74, a retired police officer from Cambridge, Vt., who has spent eight years teaching Vermonters 50 and over how to stay safe and confident behind the wheel.

As AARP Vermont’s Smart Driver program volunteer coordinator, Masson aims to keep people driving safely as long as possible—and also helps them know their limitations.

“We ask people to be honest with themselves,” said Masson. “Personally, I know I’m much more careful.”

Masson moved to Vermont from Ontario, Canada in 1997 after meeting his wife at Smuggler’s Notch, a popular Vermont ski resort. In 2011, he stumbled upon an AARP booth at a state exposition in Burlington, where volunteers were recruiting driver instructors.

“With my background, I thought it would be a good volunteer experience for me,” said Masson, a 2017 winner of AARP’s Andrus Award, its highest volunteer honor.

Within a few months, Masson was trained and teaching the course. Today he oversees 24 volunteer instructors who lead 40 of the four-hour refresher classes for 600 older Vermonters annually.

 “I had one 94-year-old gentleman and his wife who still drove from Vermont to Florida and back every year,” said Masson, who was so impressed, he offered the man his AARP Driver Safety vest.

And that Vermont weather?

“If the conditions aren’t good, be safe. Stay home.”

AARP's Driver Safety Program

More than 300,000 people took an AARP Smart Driver course in the classroom and another 180,000 took the class online in 2018. More than 4,500 volunteers ran the program.    

AARP Is There for You

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