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AARP Smart Driver Course Addresses New Challenges Older Drivers Face Behind the Wheel

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WASHINGTON--Jan 8, 2014: AARP Driver Safety just got smarter. The AARP initiative that has helped drivers stay safe, educated and confident behind the wheel since 1979 debuted its new AARP Smart Driver™ Course on January 1, 2014. The new course is now available in a classroom setting, led by certified volunteer instructors, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in U.S. territories. The new version of the course will soon also be available online.

“The driving experience today is significantly different from even a decade ago—changing vehicles, changing technology, changing road rules, and even changing roadways”

The new curriculum was developed to help drivers 50 and older stay current with driving laws and new technologies inside and outside of vehicles.

“The driving experience today is significantly different from even a decade ago—changing vehicles, changing technology, changing road rules, and even changing roadways,” said Julie E. Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety. “That change is often hardest on those who are farthest removed from a driving course.”

AARP Smart Driver Course: The New and Improved Curriculum

In an effort to measure the impact of its driver safety course, AARP Driver Safety partnered with the Eastern Virginia Medical School to conduct a research study.

The results demonstrated the effectiveness of AARP Driver Safety’s driving refresher course. It also highlighted areas of opportunity in which evidence-based findings could be incorporated into the course. The course has been adjusted to include a focus on areas where older drivers could benefit from additional training, including: roundabouts, pavement markings, stop-sign compliance, and safety issues such as speeding, seatbelt and turn signal use.

In addition to learning safety strategies that can reduce the likelihood of a crash, participants of the new course will also learn how aging, medications, alcohol, and other health-related issues affect driving ability, and how to adjust their driving accordingly to allow for these changes. The course also helps participants determine when it may not be best to drive (e.g., late at night, inclement weather, etc.) and how to plan for a time when driving is no longer an option.

In addition to incorporating evidence-based research, the AARP Smart Driver Course was developed with input from a National Older Driver Safety Expert Panel, chaired by Dr. Joseph Coughlin of MIT AgeLab. Designed with the participant in mind, the AARP Smart Driver Course also incorporates adult learning principles, and the classroom course guidebook features reader-friendly print types, full-color pages, an easy-to-follow format and supplemental course videos.

Instructors can also customize 19 areas of the new course, which is available in English and Spanish, to provide information that is specific to their state to better meet participant needs.

The new AARP Smart Driver Course is one of four easily accessible resources provided by AARP Driver Safety for adults who want to brush up on driving best practices. Additional resources include We Need to Talk, CarFit and the AARP Driving Resource Center, which is an interactive online resource that features tools and activities to further improve upon driving best practices.

Benefits of Taking the AARP Smart Driver Course

Approximately 500,000 participants complete the AARP Smart Driver Course annually, many of who receive multi-year insurance discounts and/or point reductions. Participants are encouraged to check with their insurance agent for details about the type of discounts they can receive for taking the course.

For more information or to find a course, visit AARP Driving Course or call 1-888-227-7669. The course is open to drivers of all ages, and AARP membership is not required to take the course.


AARP Driver Safety first launched in 1979 as the “55 Alive” program to help to keep older drivers independent, safe and confident while on the road. Today, AARP Driver Safety continues to meet the needs of older drivers through leading educational programs that include the AARP Smart Driver Course, CarFit, We Need to Talk, and the Driving Resource Center. The flagship AARP Smart Driver Course is the nation’s largest classroom and online driver safety course and is designed especially for drivers age 50 and older. Over 15 million participants have gone through AARP Driver Safety classroom and online courses, taught by more than 4,000 AARP Driver Safety volunteers. The courses are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.