SKOWHEGAN, Maine — George Davis, an instructor for an over-50 driver’s education course, is crusading to save impulse-inspired trips to the ice cream stand.
People who lose or give up their licenses as they grow older face a range of transportation challenges, most of which can be planned for and overcome, said Davis. But that spur-of-the moment craving for a cone of hard-serve isn’t the kind of thing that can be planned.
Keeping people behind the wheel for as long as possible is why Davis volunteers his time offering driver safety courses to people older than 50 — the next of which is scheduled for July 23 in Pittsfield.
“I do this because I believe in it,” said Davis. “I believe in helping older people become better drivers, which keeps them on the road longer and safer.”
Not only that, taking the four-hour course can save participants money on their auto insurance, according to a state law enacted in 2001. According to Davis, most insurance companies offer a 5 percent discount, which is good for three years. Maine law states that an “appropriate discount” will be given to drivers 55 years old or older for the completion of a driver safety course.
“Insurance companies were reluctant to do this in the beginning,” said Davis. “We don’t see that reluctance anymore. They’re more willing.”
Davis said his course — which is taught in a classroom setting, meaning no driving is involved — packs a lot of information into three hours. In addition to defensive driving techniques, he teaches people how to recognize when they must cut back on their driving and gives them strategies to do so.
“There’s no driving and no test,” said Davis. “Everyone who takes the class passes.”
Participants receive a workbook they can take home with them as well as information about driving laws.
Davis said many past participants have told him that it’s usually something small that ends up staying with them, such as how to adjust mirrors properly or how to calculate a safe three-second following distance.
Davis’ course will be taught from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, July 23, at Pittsfield Town Office, 112 Somerset Ave., Pittsfield. The cost is $14, with a $2 discount for AARP members.
For information about other defensive driver classes being held in Maine, call 888-227-7669.