You may have changed your car since the photograph on the right but what about your driving habits?
A campaign, aimed at keeping older drivers driving for longer has been launched throughout North Wales.
Launched by the North Wales Road Safety Group, the Older Driver Campaign will be encouraging drivers over 60 to take part in a free driver assessment course which is now available via all six local authorities throughout north Wales.
Coordinated by Flintshire County Council, the course is delivered by ‘Mobility Driving Assessment Service trained instructors, offering a two hour assessment and including a door to door service. Participants are able to use their own vehicle.
The assessment will look at participants driving habits and suggest ways of improving their driving, giving them the skills to cope, and make it less stressful on today’s busy roads.
Chair of the North Wales Road Safety Group, Wendy Davies-Williams said: “As we get older we may see some changes - our reaction times get slower, decision making takes longer and our eyesight and hearing may begin to deteriorate. It is important that when these changes become recognisable it should be realised that driving will be affected. The assessment as well as years of experience can help keep you driving for life - it’s not a driving test, the ultimate aim of this campaign is to keep people driving safer for longer.
“So far throughout north Wales, older people have already seized this opportunity and have attended a course which they have found to be extremely beneficial. The feedback we as a Road Safety Group have received has been very positive.”
“This is about education and not enforcement,” said Gareth Jones, North Wales Police’ Road Safety Manager.
“Traffic conditions today are a world apart from what many drivers have been trained to deal with when they first learned to drive and most people should be able to carry on driving – more safely – by adapting their driving habits following the advice of a driving professional.
He added: “The number of collisions over the past few years which have involved drivers over 65 has become a cause for concern. In 2010, there were 233 collisions involving drivers over 65, which is the equivalent of 13.1% of all collisions. So far this year, there have been 150 collisions which is 16.2% of the number of all collisions which is quite worrying.
“Nobody’s driving licence will be threatened as a result of attending this particular assessment. To many older drivers, the ability to drive represents their independence.”
On the morning of the launch 71 year old, Peter Davies from Rhuallt completed the driving assessment and stated “I first passed my test 53 years ago and since then have driven in many different countries such as Dubai, Cario, USA, Europe and South Africa, after 53 years of driving you can pick up bad habits. This is a wonderful scheme, it is not a test, it is a friendly process to establish ones current driving skills, followed with helpful advice on areas which can be improved upon.
"Since first passing my driving test there has been no professional advice given about the standard of my driving, until I sat this driving assessment and I can now say I am more confident about driving and more aware of the improvements I can make in relation to my own driving skills.”
The Wales Mobility and Driving Assessment Service is committed to helping people remain mobile and recognise the importance of independence and being able to continue driving safely. North Wales Centre Manager, Gary Jones said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to work with the North Wales Road Safety Group to establish a network of specialist driving instructors who can now deliver the highest levels of assessment and advice to older drivers across North Wales.
“We should all recognise the changes that can come with the ageing process and how this can impact upon our safety as drivers. Through the Older Driver Programme we are able to ensure drivers receive the appropriate advice regarding their driving skills, thereby helping people drive safer for longer.”
To apply for the assessment, a form, which is available via all six local authority Road Safety Departments, needs to be completed and sent to Flintshire County Council, who will arrange the administration of the course.