It’s easy for motorists to think of driver’s education courses as something from their distant past -- the class many took as teenagers to get that coveted driver’s license. In most cases, many experienced drivers wouldn’t consider taking those courses again. After all, many likely believe they know all they need to about driving – but that may not always be true.
A driver-safety class allows you to practice how you will respond in an emergency. If gives you the opportunity in a controlled environment to make split-second decisions – steering and stopping.
The greatest safety feature in your car isn’t one of the state-of-the-art brake, camera or steering systems. It’s you, notes Edmunds.com in an article on safety features. More than 90% of automobile crashes are caused by human performance and behavior, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If more drivers took advantage of the numerous education programs available for drivers of all ages and skill levels, this statistic may be lower.
Senior driving classes are on the rise. The American Occupational Therapy Association Driver Resource Center has driver rehabilitation specialists who provide in-depth evaluations of the skills of drivers who have had strokes, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes or other potentially disabling conditions. The specialist, often an occupational therapist, offers the driver suggestions and may even recommend specialized equipment to keep the driver safe. Additionally, AARP has a host of programs for older drivers.
But what about those drivers who fall between high school and retirement ages? Are courses really helpful?
Yes, Paul Murrell, a veteran facilitator of many training courses, wrote for Practical Motoring.
“It is quite sobering to see how many of these drivers (who one can safely assume are more involved and enthusiastic than average) make basic errors,” he says. “It starts with the way many of them sit behind the wheel. … Sitting too far back means you can’t apply full pressure to the brake pedal or brace yourself against the footrest. Almost all participants hold the wheel at '10 and 2' [o'clock] and have to be reminded (many times over) to hold it at the 9 and 3 position.”
There’s no reason for drivers to feel less worthy for taking such a course. Even the most experienced drivers can benefit from them. They are good practice for anyone, especially adults who might have become lax after years of driving.
Advanced driver training courses take drivers through the basics, such as seat adjustment, steering (do not steer with one hand) and even scanning the road for possible hazards.
Most driver safety classes allow drivers to get behind the wheel and drive through situations that might seem nerve-wracking, including skids in tight corners on slick surfaces. The instructors stay with the drivers as they repeatedly perform the maneuvers until they can do so without emotional responses, according to Edmunds.
There are also a host of classroom courses that go through the basics of driving and help shore up skills. Learn how taking such a course may even qualify you for a defensive driving discount.