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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

TCRC looks to attract more to driving course

Friday, April 16, 2004

(Photo)
Deva Windham, 83, of Wardell follows along with the AARP instructor.
PORTAGEVILLE -- It didn't seem to bother 83-year-old Deva Windham of Wardell that she was the only "student" in the refresher-driving course offered by AARP and the Southern Telecommunication Resource Center in Portageville Thursday.

"I thought there'd be more people here, but that's OK," said the lone driving student.

Windham was the only area resident taking advantage of the refresher driving course for motorists 50 and older. It was held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the TCRC located at 147 State Highway T but will be offered again every second Wednesday and Thursday through June.

Windham first heard about the course in the newspaper and when she realized her discount with her auto insurance was going to expire next month, she jumped at the chance to take the two-day course.

"People pay $10 to take the course, but they can save $50 or so on the insurance," noted Ray Nabors, TCRC coordinator.

Windham said she told a lot of people about the course, but many of them thought their insurance was already good enough.

But Nabors thought the combination of spring's recent cold weather and the ending of the Easter holiday could be reasons for the low turnout this month, he pointed out.

"The first time we did it (in March), we had about half a dozen people take the course," Nabors said. "And everybody that's taken it has been attentive and really pay attention." AARP developed the eight-hour classroom refresher course to help drivers over 50 and older to update their driving skills for complex roadways and help maintain driving mobility for years to come.

"What we did yesterday was talk about things like turning your whole body and looking over your shoulder when you're making a turn," Windham said. "We talked about recognizing signs."

The course-covers age-related physical changes, declining perceptual skills, accident prevention measures, rules of the road, local driving problems and license renewal requirements.

"I don't drive at night. I just drive in the daytime. I call my grandsons sometimes if I need a ride," Windham said about her driving habits.

Although Windham welcomed the driving updates, she doesn't think being an older driver is such a bad thing.

"I think an older driver is more cautious than a younger driver," Windham said. "We've been driving a lot longer and know what can happen. The young people think nothing can happen to them."

The course is presented through a combination of slide presentations and group discussion.

"Basically drivers learn about safety techniques and things they can do to make driving safer," Nabors said. "For example, they discuss topics such as what to do when approaching another driver at an intersection and what to look out for when passing other vehicles. It's mostly safety procedures and just a refresher course for the elderly."

The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation's first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists 50 and older. The two-part eight-hour course is instructed by a trained AARP volunteer and delivered statewide via the interactive-video conference TeleCenter Network.

"I just sit here and listen to the man talk in the TV," Windham said. "Sometimes other people (from other sites) will ask questions."

But this week wasn't the first time Windham had taken a refresher course on driving, she said. About three years ago, she and some friends took a refresher course in Caruthersville, she noted.

"It wasn't on TV, there was a man there and we all just discussed things and listened," Windham recalled.

Although Windham would've liked some company in the class on Wednesday and Thursday, she didn't mind it, she said.

"It's really a lot of help," Windham said. "Plus I get a discount on my insurance."

Despite this month's low turnout, word about the course is getting a round, Nabors said. "We've put out some brochures and I plan to go by the senior centers."

Nabors recommends those interested in attending to get a group together and carpool to the class. Each participant also receives a Missouri driver's manual and an AARP driver's manual.

Preregistration is encouraged. To register or for more information, call 573-379-5609.