New Rules of the Road: Who Knew?

Driving certificatesAs I mentioned we would do in my previous post, Ray and I went to the AAA Driver Improvement Program course in Ithaca this past Saturday. We had talked about doing this for years, every year in fact since we moved to the Finger Lakes and found out from our new insurer that there is a discount for people completing the course.

I admit that I was skeptical whether the savings would materialize but, since starting the blog, we decided that we needed to check it out – not just for the blog, but for our own well-being. We have not been disappointed.

We and the other students were largely gray hairs, and speaking for ourselves, we can say that we found the course truly enlightening. The first exercise was a test of what we “knew to be true.” Much of what we had learned in our driver’s ed classes and the rules of the road over the years has changed. No more placing your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, for example. If your air bag, located in the center of the steering wheel, should inflate, your wrists may be broken. Try 9 and 3. It’s better for your back anyway.

The circumstances of driving have changed radically in recent decades. Today we have to deal with multi, multi lane highways; we need to concern ourselves with other drivers using and abusing new technology. In short, we need to not only hone our own skills, but to be prepared to respond to new road challenges and conditions.

Well, not to frighten you too much, let me say that there were also tips on how to park and position one’s self for shopping centers and general pull-ins. How do we gauge where we position ourselves in high speed situations? And what are the best ways of setting our side-view mirrors? How about stopping at intersections? All very good stuff.

Now, on a more personal level, let me say that our instructor, Kieran, was the right person for us. A retired law enforcement officer, he knew whereof he spoke. He was also engaging, funny and full of personal insights. A very imposing presence, he was nonetheless the officer that I would wish to confront should I be pulled over: a by-the-rules guy who also recognized that there is room for warnings and second chances. And, he told us that his colleagues who teach the course also bring countless stories and expertise. It’s worth it regardless of who the instructor is.

Don’t show up late to Kieran’s class, incidentally. One lady attempted to sidle in 90 minutes after we started, but Kieran was firm in telling her that she would have to re-register and take the course another day. These are AAA rules and not to be flouted.

Thanks, Kieran, for a rewarding day. We are putting what you taught us into practice.

Next step: I take our certificates to our insurance agent and wait to see what we get from them for our efforts. We’ll keep you posted.



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