Driver safety class offered at COA

Nanette Daigle Administrative Assistant Ascension Council on Aging

Far too many auto accident deaths and very expensive auto insurance costs, what can be done to change this here? Can senior citizens who are typically living on fixed incomes, save money on their insurance costs and become safer? The Ascension Parish Council on Aging working with the non profit AARP may have a solution for Ascension Parish residents over 50 years old.

Ascension Parish is a wonderful place to live; great restaurants, good weather most of the year, friendly neighbors and very pretty scenery but there are problems, especially safety issues causing far too many auto accident deaths, driving up insurance costs throughout Louisiana Some issues are in dispute but there is no doubt that many of of our roads are sub-standard, narrower and without shoulders like Highway 22 and much of Highway 44 which have seen several recent traffic deaths, for example. Our wet weather and evening downpours make our roads slippery, more prone to slip and slide accidents and Louisiana's relaxed liquor laws compared to other states (can we say "Drive through Daiquiris!) and "party hearty" lifestyle result in too many alcohol related accidents and fatalities.

AARP realized back in the 1970s that older Americans were generally better drivers than other age groups but because their health was less robust, they tended to be killed in auto accidents younger individuals survived. There have also been many changes in laws and auto equipment since today's senior citizens first learned to drive and took driver training courses; air bags, seat belts, infant car seats, for example. A four hour intense auto safety class was developed by AARP that has become the largest program re-training drivers in the world. It is so successful in making Seniors into better, safer drivers that most insurance companies offer a discount of 10% or so to those who take the class and the discount is good for three years. The average amount saved is approximately $100 per year so the total savings is $300, more if a person has two cars or a very expensive car yet the class only costs AARP Members $12, $14 for non AARP Members.

As there has been no venue available locally to take the class, the Ascension Council on Aging, always looking for ways to help local older citizens, has been volunteering to allow AARP to use its Senior Center facilities. There will be a Driver safety Class this month at 8 a.m. until noon on Wednesday April 24 at the Gonzales Senior Center, next to the Gonzales Library. You must call (225) 621-5750 for more information and to enroll for this month's class. The class is "fun" to take according to most enrollees and AARP's award winning instructor, Mark Neckameyer makes it all a pleasant experience …. Along with being a potential life saver and money saving thing to do!

Mark Neckameyer of AARP says "Residents of Ascension Parishare fortunate that their Council on Aging looks to help them by hosting our class. This is a program that every older driver really needs."