CarFit

This free nationwide educational program developed with AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association helps seniors see more from the driver’s seat.

More on Senior Driving

During a 20-minute drive-up appointment (usually held in parking lots at senior centers, hospitals, and public parks) specialists train drivers to adjust mirrors and seating height, and to find the correct distance from the pedal and steering wheel to give them the clearest possible sight lines and safest position for driving.

Will CarFit keep you safer? The jury is out on this one, says Dennis McCarthy, a professor and senior driving researcher at Nova Southeastern University who stages CarFit programs in Florida.

But it does teach senior drivers the benefits of being properly positioned in a car and puts them in contact with experts who can answer questions and suggest a check-in with a physician or an ophthalmologist if one is needed. The program’s website, car-fit.org, includes a searchable calendar and map (the Eastern states are particularly well-covered) with listings for about 300 events per year.

AARP Driver Programs

Last year AARP led continuing driver-education courses for 360,000 classroom participants and an additional 130,000 participants online, says Kyle Rakow, the vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety. State regulations shape the curriculum and course duration: 4 to 8 hours is a typical length.

The fee is usually $15 to $25, and the car insurance savings can be considerable: 10 percent in a few states, including New York and Georgia.

“Individuals walk in for an insurance discount and walk out a much safer driver,” Rakow says. (Most states allow insurance companies to set their own incentive rates; not all give credit for the online version of the course.)

Are safety-course graduates less likely to be involved in crashes than other older drivers? Probably not, according to a handful of studies collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But participant surveys show that these programs prompt seniors to reflect on their driving knowledge, skills, risk factors, and performance.

You'll find classes on the AARP website.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the July 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.