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BEACON Senior News

Driving instructor steers senior motorists to safety

Mar 15, 2024 02:03PM ● By Will Sanborn

Even if you drove with ease all through your youth and middle age, the senior years may complicate your excursions behind the wheel. Slower reaction time, poor eyesight and distractibility, plus diminished strength, coordination and flexibility bring unexpected challenges when operating your vehicle. But there is a third option between continuing to drive as you are and surrendering your keys.

Stephen Blucher, 82, recently completed teaching his 300th AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Driver Safety class. A senior himself, Blucher understands the nuances of mature drivers and is there to help. His volunteer venture began when a friend suggested he take one of the courses to save on car insurance. 

“Afterwards, I promised my friend that I would teach some classes for maybe a year or so—and I ended up doing 300 of them!” 


AARP has offered “America’s First Refresher Course for Drivers Age 50+” for more than 40 years, with over 17 million students brushing up on safer driving.

Even though there is no age restriction on who can join AARP and anyone with a driver’s license may take the class, Blucher says that more than 90% of the attendees are adults, not teenagers, and are there just for the insurance discount that comes from completing it. 

“The course is recognized as an approved motor vehicle accident prevention course for an automobile insurance premium reduction by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles,” according to AARP.

The class covers basic safety issues including auto maintenance, checking tire wear and tear, night driving issues and much more. It is offered in an in-person classroom setting using a guidebook and video presentation or online.  


Blucher affirms that the classes are well worth it. Nine out of 10 participants changed at least one driving behavior due to what they learned. For Colorado Springs drivers, navigating the city has grown increasingly difficult over the 25 years that Blucher has taught. 

From a population of about 440,000 in 1998, Colorado Springs and the surrounding metro area has exploded to a total of about 693,000—well over a 50 percent increase. Those driving in the city on a regular basis know the challenges of heavier traffic all too well. Driving defensively is vital.

“I would emphasize a three-second rule at intersections and looking right and left before proceeding, because drivers here are known to go blasting through those yellow-about-to-turn-red lights,” Blucher said. “A yellow light to them just means to step on the gas and go faster!” he joked.

Not every student is motivated to be in the class, especially if the only reason they were there was due to a judge mandating the training. He recalls one participant who had his cell phone and computer at his seat and was doing anything but paying attention. 

“I told him to put those things away, and to listen up or leave,” Blucher said. “When he kept on playing with them, I threw him out.”

In contrast, another of Blucher’s students was an attentive 94-year-old. 

“She was as sharp as could be, and she focused on adjusting her driving to what she was still able to do,” Blucher recounted. 

“AARP needs support from dedicated people like Blucher to continue its advocacy and educational efforts,” said AARP State Director Sara Schueneman. “We congratulate Blucher on his outstanding work commitment and continued enthusiasm for teaching.” 

Blucher’s driving skills even extend to the air—he piloted planes and hot air balloons during his career. Whether up in the clouds or down on the ground helping seniors refine their driving skills, attentiveness and safety are paramount. He’s already looking beyond his 300th-class milestone and said he’ll likely occasionally teach a few more AARP classes.

“I like being around people and doing things I think might be helping others,” he said.  


To take an AARP Driver Safety in-person class, call 877-846-3299 from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or visit the AARP Driver Safety page. All in-person classes are four hours. Preregistration is required. There are four classes offered this month: 

April 4 at the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging, 14 S. Chestnut St., 10 a.m. 

April 17 at the Woodland Park Senior Center, 321 Pine St., Woodland Park, 1 p.m. 

April 18 at the East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd., 10 a.m.  

April 30 at the Woodland Park Library, 218 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 1 p.m. 


Visit the AARP Driver Safety website. The course price ranges from $20-$27. Students receive a certificate when they complete the course. 

To volunteer with AARP Driver Safety and help keep drivers safe in your community, visit the AARP Volunteer page. You’ll learn more about volunteering with Driver Safety and may submit an application if interested.


  • When approaching a green light, do not step on your brakes. The driver following too closely behind you is not expecting it and may hit you.
  • First in line at a red light? When it turns green, take a moment to check for cross-traffic red light runners. Disregard the horn-crazy driver behind you.
  • When the car stopped ahead of you moves, wait a moment before pulling ahead in case the driver suddenly stops again.
  • Any time you turn on your windshield wipers, turn on your headlights as well. It makes you more easily seen, and daytime running lights do not illuminate tail lights on many cars.
  • In a parking lot, be aware of your surroundings, and do not unlock your door until you are standing next to it.
  • New car drivers should read their owner’s manuals carefully so they really understand what their car can and will do.