AAA holds driving courses for senior citizens

WEST HARTFORD --  Learning how to drive, a right of passage for many of us,meant taking a class in high school or having a parent teach us.

But as we get older, there are lots of changes.

"it's different from classes you may have taken when you were a kid," said Tolland resident Eugene Koss.

That's why this isn't Eugene's first time coming to a driver improvement class for seniors. "I think this is the third one," added Koss.

It's hosted by AAA at their locations in Norwich, West Hartford and South Windsor each month. There's also classes at local senior centers.

Director of AAA Driving School, Jenn Shorette, said the class covers topics such as risks of senior driving, managing ones medication, mobility and exercises they can do to remain safe in the vehicle.

Eugene and his classmates sit in a four-hour long class navigating how to stay safe behind the wheel.The goal is about keeping them independent because if you take a person's keys away AAA research shows that could double a person's risk for depression.

"The goal is to allow them to maintain their keys for as long as and as safely as possible," said Shorette.

And there's an added financial bonus for those who take the class. "Our car insurance is less expensive if we take the class," said Koss.

Teachers are also specialized in how to help students find rides by using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. "We've got a staff of folks here that are very knowledgeable on these apps and certainly can provide any level of support that they need," said Shorette.

But the overall goal of course is safety behind the wheel. "Continuous training and improvement forestalls the concern that oh my god I'm not going to be able to drive," said Koss.