CARS.COM — We’ve written about the financial benefits of taking a driving class geared toward older drivers. But we wondered: Are there other benefits?
To find out, I enrolled in the online version of AARP’s Smart Driver class. Whether you take the course online or in a classroom, the curriculum is “exactly the same,” Kyle Rakow, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety, wrote in an email.
That’s because the class “needs to be approved in each state by the head transportation body. The main difference is for the learning preference of the participant,” he explained.
I invested $13.97 — AARP was running a discount for members when I enrolled — and roughly eight hours of my time to take the online class. I had 60 days from time of purchase to complete it (it’s 30 days in New York and Connecticut). Online courses cost $19.95 for AARP members and $24.95 for nonmembers; classroom courses are $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers (costs are slightly higher for each in New York). Rakow said classroom courses are usually offered over the span of a day or two.
So, what did I learn? More than I expected. It opened my eyes to how aging makes us more vulnerable to injuries during a crash, and I also learned about specific driving scenarios in which older drivers are more likely to have an accident. The course served as a good refresher about rules of the road (it’s designed to provide state-specific information), and it provided a good overview of how technology is changing driving.