Livetech Partners with AARP Driver Safety and The Hartford to Develop Smart DriverTEK Workshops


13 Jul Livetech Partners with AARP Driver Safety and The Hartford to Develop Smart DriverTEK Workshops

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CARS.COM — Advances in automotive safety technology have created the potential to extend the time mature motorists can remain behind the wheel — but how do we tap into that potential and deal with technology’s ever-evolving nature?

A pilot program from senior-advocacy giant AARP and The Hartford insurance company aims to do just that. Debuting Saturday, Smart DriverTEK will present a series of senior-driver workshops and pop-up events through Dec. 21 in California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Related: Older Drivers Make Up Fastest-Growing Segment of Motorists

Smart DriverTEK was inspired by a study done earlier this year by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab that revealed 76 percent of drivers 50 and older planned to seek out high-tech safety features when buying their next car. Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, called those findings the pivot point leading to the development of Smart DriverTEK.

So many older drivers saying they would shop for cars with advanced safety technology “really was kind of an indication that, wow, if this many people are going to be out there actively seeking it, we really need to speed up, ramp up and broaden our education efforts,” she said.

“It’s important for us to stay safe on the road,” she continued. “It’s particularly important as we’re aging — driving is kind of the glue that keeps us connected to our community. So we do want drivers to know what resources help them do that, and now it turns out that certain technologies in a vehicle can help you do that.”

The Smart DriverTEK workshops focusing on in-car safety technology will be led by trained instructors in a 60- to 90-minute interactive, mixed-media format, said Kyle Rakow, AARP vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety. Participants will receive a vehicle-technology checklist to use when car shopping along with access to an online Smart DriverTEK safety-technology resource page.

The purpose of the Smart DriverTEK pop-up events, Rakow said, is to generate interest in safety technology and the AARP workshops by providing information through videos and conversations at fairs, expos, conferences and other community events.

“We believe through these educational programs we’re better able to extend [mature drivers’] mobility and that’s critical to an individual’s well-being,” Rakow said. “Through this education, they become confident, they become knowledgeable and they can stay safer on the roads.”

Pop-up events will be free; depending on location, some workshops (preregistration required) will carry a $5 fee. Since the new program kicks off as a pilot, Rakow said AARP is using the November/December workshops to gauge whether to charge a fee for workshops in the future. To register for a Texas workshop, click here; to register for a California, Florida or Georgia workshop, click here.

Depending on how well the pilot program is received — “I have all the confidence in the world that this is going to prove successful,” Rakow said — the plan is to roll out Smart DriverTEK workshops and pop-ups to all 50 states in 2017 as well as create an online version of the workshops. AARP also plans to add one-on-one individualized training sessions, Rakow said, so that people who want to learn about the technologies specific to their car can do so. He envisions those sessions following workshops.

Rakow also hopes to partner with automakers, car dealerships and rental-car agencies, serving as a resource in educating drivers about evolving vehicle technology by providing workshops and pop-up events at these natural-fit locations.

“The growth in these vehicle technologies, these assistive technologies and autonomous vehicles is just unbelievable,” he said. “My vision for this program is that just as quickly as vehicle technologies are evolving … this program will evolve as well.

“Education plays a critical role in helping drivers stay safe on the road,” Rakow added. “Whether they just got their learning permit or their license or they’ve had it for 30 years, education just plays a critical role.”

Don’t live in the four pilot states? Check out the AARP Driving Resource Center, where you can watch videos about safety technologies, use driving simulations and find driving safety information.

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