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Rotary Hears How AARP Can Benefit Drivers

Jan. 17, 2008 — Steve Abrants, a volunteer for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), told members of the Rotary Club of St. Croix how AARP's driver safety program can benefit them.
During the regular weekly meeting Thursday at Gertrude's Restaurant on Hess Road, the topic was AARP and the benefits it offers members. That meant the tradition of Rotarians being fined for any faux pas was expanded as members were fined if they were over 50 and not card-carrying members of AARP.
The driver safety course is open to the public and is for all ages, even those under 50. It is for anyone looking to improve his or her driving skills. But Abrants said senior citizens tend to get the most from the class, because, with age, things change and seniors must pay attention to those changes.
Abrants, state coordinator for the program, said response time slows, and eyesight changes and hearing may get worse for seniors. The course gives people ways to adjust driving skills for those changes.
The eight-hour course is broken down into two, four-hour days.
Abrants joked that the course is split into two days because "we'll have some sleepers if it's done in one day."
The course is conducted at the AARP office in Estate Diamond on Queen Mary Highway, just west of Sunny Isle Shopping Center. For a fee of $10 participants get instruction and a workbook. Plus, they leave with the knowledge of how to be better and safer drivers.
"It's beneficial because there are some things we just plain forget after driving for years," Abrants said.
Abrants said the certificate earned for the course may entitle some to discounts on car insurance. According to Abrants, there are 36 states that offer a 5 percent discount on insurance premiums.
Denyse Singelton, St Croix AARP director, and Abrants met with legislators last March asking them to consider a bill that would make drivers in the Virgin Islands eligible for the discount.
According to Abrants, promises were made, but nothing happened. So in June Singleton and Abrants went to Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and addressed the issue. Abrants said they are hopeful something will come of the legislation.
AARP has 20 qualified instructors, three of them fluent in Spanish. The class is offered at least once a month except for July and August. The class size is limited to 15 in order to be able to give one-on-one instruction.
Last year the class certified 39 participants. Abrants said at the end of class participants are given a questionnaire about the class.
"The results have been extremely positive," he said. "There is never a negative comment."
For more information about the class or to volunteer call 719-2277.
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