Agencies seek support for volunteer drivers

Agencies seek support for volunteer drivers

A coalition of nonprofit agencies, including the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, is asking state legislators to assure volunteer drivers that their insurance premiums will not rise as a result of their good deeds.

In Dec. 16 testimony before the Assembly Human Services Committee, nonprofit executives noted that funds supporting transportation for the elderly and disabled are getting scarcer, and that volunteer drivers are essential in transporting seniors to health and wellness programs.

Although the automobile insurance industry typically does not base premiums on volunteer driving, fear of the possibility has a “chilling effect in recruiting volunteer drivers,” said Jacob Toporek, executive director of the State Association.

He and other nonprofit executives are asking State Senate and Assembly members to support a non-binding resolution promoting volunteer transportation and assuring volunteer drivers they need not worry about their insurance costs rising.

In a Dec. 16 hearing before the Assembly’s Human Services Committee, Toporek said that access and mobility are among the “important areas that must be addressed comprehensively and collaboratively…so that we are able to lessen, rather than increase, the future vulnerabilities of our older citizens and their dependence on public support and services.”

The committee approved the resolution.

Karen Alexander, managing director of the NJ Travel Independent Program at Rutgers University said volunteer drivers are essential.

“In a state as suburban as New Jersey, the opportunity to have more support for volunteer drivers will mean more mobility for older adults who cannot drive themselves and do not have good access to public transit options,” said Alexander, former director of eldercare services for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Toporek saw little likelihood the resolution will pass before the end of the current legislative session in early January.

“I feeling we may run out of time, so we will have to go at it again in the next session,” he said.

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