TORRINGTON, Wyo. — Goshen County drivers can get a refresher on driving education through the Smart Driver Course by AARP at the Senior Friendship Center.
The class is taught by Gary DeBolt, who took the class three times under former instructor Paul Novak. After Novak retired, DeBolt offered to take over as the Torrington instructor a year ago.
Debolt said the class is aimed at drivers over 50 who want to stay up-to-date on current driving trends.
“The point is to help senior citizens, in particular, renew their knowledge of driving,” he said. “We cover what are the current laws, how they’ve changed, what are the safety features of your car, what are some of the future changes that we’re looking at with automobiles and transportation, and to prepare them to be safer on the roads.”
The six-hour course covers a wide list of information and issues, and makes frequent use of videos to show driving techniques.
“People are struggling with roundabouts really bad,” DeBolt said, “and the Kansas Department of Transportation issued a video on how to drive on roundabouts. We show that to them on how to maneuverer those. We look at statistics and strategies on how to pass and enter highways. We talk merging, we talk about signalling, how to make a proper lefthand turn, righthand turn.”
The course also addresses on how drivers can determine when they should stop driving.
“We talk about hearing loss, flexibility and strength, things like that that affect a senior citizen and how that changes your driving abilities,” he said. “There are some quizzes, some self-quizzes, that say, ‘Do I notice other drivers honk at me a lot? Do I fail to notice red lights? Do I see somebody all of a sudden and wonder where that car came from?’ Those types of things.”
The point of the class, however, is not to force anyone to give up driving.
“If you have these problems, we’re not telling you you shouldn’t drive,” DeBolt said. “We’re telling you that these are the problems that you recognize yourself when you’re driving, and you should talk to your physicians and caretakers to find out what’s going on.”
While there is a focus on older drivers, DeBolt said the class is open to anyone, regardless of age. He added that Wyomingites who successfully complete the class also get a 10 percent discount on their auto insurance.
DeBolt will hold another session on April 25. Depending on the overflow, he may hold a third session at a later date. The class costs $15 for AARP members and $20 for everyone else. The money goes toward covering the costs of the class: DeBolt himself is an unpaid volunteer.