Bernie LaRusic, an instructor with the Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association, puts on the course, which is free to anyone over the age of 65.
The program started in 2000, endorsed by the provincial government, as a way to give older drivers a refresher on the rules of the road. It was designed and created by retired Department of Motor Vehicle driving instructors and testers, tailored to the needs of drivers who have been on the road for many years.
As LaRusic points out, testing has changed a lot since many of those over the age of 65 would have gotten their license.
“A lot of people never had a significant drivers test,” he said, adding the tests sometimes were just simple written ones.
He says in Nova Scotia, every month around 1,000 people turn 65.
However the course is not about teaching them how to drive again, he says. The course focuses more on safety and awareness while on the road.
Topics covered in the course were things like skid control, stopping distance and the proper distance to stay back from the car in front of you.
“It’s not hard to find people irritate you, but you can’t control them. Unless safety is an issue, you can’t worry about them.” - Bernie LaRusic, instructor
Another common issue he hears while teaching the course is not so much about their own driving, but other drivers on the road. He says many seniors are bothered by people they see as breaking the rules of the road.
“It’s not hard to find people irritate you, but you can’t control them,” he says. “Unless safety is an issue, you can’t worry about them.”
Whether they are right or wrong doesn’t matter, he says. What matters is who should yield right away. In the end, he says, it’s best to just be courteous to the other driver.
LaRusic’s background is in adult education, which he did until his retirement. He also brings to the table 20 years of experience teaching Drivers Ed courses.
Since the course was started 11 years ago, LaRusic has given out over 2,000 certificates to those who have gone through the course. On Oct. 13, he added another 56 to that total.
Local Senior Safety Coordinator Linda Wentzell brought in the course, with support from the Queens County RCMP.