Road Safety News

Senior drivers encouraged to ‘Drive On’

Thursday 19th February 2015

Senior drivers in Powys are being invited to take part in a free assessment designed to build their driving confidence.

‘Drive On’ is a free assessment being offered by Powys Council’s road safety unit for people aged 55 years and over, or for people requiring support to build confidence in their driving. The scheme is free thanks to funding from the Welsh Government.

Participants can choose a driving instructor from a list supplied and then book a one hour assessment drive, either in their car or the instructors. The assessment is confidential and any safety issues that arise are discussed with a view to improving them.

The assessment drive can be tailored to meet the needs of the participant and each participant is given a free copy of the Highway Code to keep.



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I completely agree with Honor, her arguments are incisive, objective, rational and caring.

I perceive the two paragraphs in Rod's first post to be contrasting; para two is eminently sensible, considerate and something that, I am sure, all highways engineers should aspire to when road systems are designed and built.

My interpretation of the first para leads me to disagree with it (Rod, please accept my sincere apologies if you view my interpretation to be wrong). For many elderly people their car is indeed a metaphorical lifeline - they get out and about to visit friends and enjoy healthy outdoor pursuits; they may drive to a stunning scenic location where they may walk many healthy miles. Thus their vehicle can lead to other activities with life enhancing benefits including a good deal of mental stimulation and happiness. I can't see any advantages in persuading elderly individuals who can drive competently and safely to give up their car. At our current level of affordable technology it could be said that in many rural areas, the 'infernal combustion engine' is indeed, still king.
Mark - Wiltshire

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Oh dear I am becoming an older, elderly man at 53 (not that I think I am getting older!). However I think these courses seem to be a very good idea especially as I am a member of the IAM and Rospa and I have completed a Cardington special driving test obtaining a grade "A" twice now.

Being an advanced driver to a very high standard ensures I do not become complacent, or even lazy within my driving style. I have been doing this for many years not just in my younger years of driving but mid years and I will continue as I get older (all things considered and I am still able to drive).

I think we should all do something to enhance our driving experience, the driving industry is constantly changing and we need to keep up with this, highway code about 10 changes per year, modern technology constantly changing in and out of the vehicle.

I often here "I am a good driver". I know we can all make a mistake now and again, thats what makes us human, but if you feel you are good or not so good these courses are an ideal way to keep up to date and checking your skills out. Maybe after doing one of these you may become interested in doing an advanced test and showing how good you are as a driver.
Anthony Cardiff

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I am disappointed that you have taken my putting another point of view as "a rebuke".
Many older people who live in rural areas already walk or cycle where that is a practical choice and always have done. But shops, doctors. cafes and even one’s friends are fewer and further apart than ever, bus services are being reduced so increasingly utility journeys do depend on access to a car. Many local authority road safety teams are offering practical refresher and assessment drives to older residents, such as the Powys programme to support their residents to be able to travel independent and safely for as long as they are able. That's simply recognition of the realities of rural living for many people.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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A friend of mine some years ago suffered a stroke and about 2 years later undertook an assessment and was considered absolutely fine for driving. He was in his late 50s. He said that the instructor/assessor was helpful and not obstructive in any way and just gave him a few pointers. He, my friend, had been a driving examiner for the DSA and took the points and improved upon them.

If the assessment came into being and the elderly understood that it was not a full blown driving test then that's the sort of thing that is going to be considered helpful, maybe when renewal of licence at 70 is required. Then people can determine whether to continue driving or accept otherwise and use public transport.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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I think the move by Powys is excellent. But I feel that many will not take up such an offer for fear of having their beliefs scrutinised and maybe criticised. 'They' are the ones who need such advice more than anyone perhaps, but it's a good scheme nonetheless.

As to who is 'old', it's often anyone more than 10yrs older than one's self. At 47 I could not imagine what I would be like at 57. I'm now 67, and do not consider myself any worse mentally than at 47, or 37.

Physically, there are more reasons to drive than walk as age takes its toll on joints and the general fabric of the body, so too does constant energetic exercise. Though regular and gentle exercise is beneficial, in rural environments local shops have become places of residence as the distant supermarket becomes the major outlet, and the shopping needs the boot of a car.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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This is something that I have advocated for some time now, maybe 6/7 years or more. Older drivers don't want a full blown test. They want to know if they remain safe and this can give them that confidence. If there are any failings then a word from the assessor will give advice and it's then the decision of the candidate whether to have a few hours brushing up on the shortcomings.

A brilliant idea and one that will in the future reduce the potential risk and worry that some elderly (well over 55 yrs old) find themselves in and the threat of a driving test hanging over them.
Bob Craven Lancs....Space is safe Campaigner

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The much older drivers prefer not to have to adapt to any novel situations or ones that might arise due to any prediction failure which is why many of them use a restricted number of routes at restricted times of day. Take them out of this comfort zone however and they will be in all sorts of trouble, but they will usually manage quite well if left within it.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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I have noticed before that when I have made a comment on the value of active mobility for the elderly you have immediately responded with a rebuke and that many people live in the country and depend on driving for their mobility. No-one disputes this. But equally many live in urban and village areas and where a daily or twice weekly walk to the shops or bus stop can be far more beneficial than the automatic reaching for ignition keys. Often it is the speed and dominance of motor vehicles in streets which persuades them otherwise. Add to this their own reduced visual acuity and hearing and a slower pace then such traffic conditions will discriminate against their ability to choose to walk. As people with "protected characteristics" of age (like the young) then there is a PSED not to indirectly (or directly) discriminate against them. "Let them drive cars" cannot be an option that meets that PSED.

In your comment about me being "patronising" to the previous generation then I suspect I am closer to being that generation than most readers.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

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Hugh, we use the same age as the start point for our GOLD scheme. This was prompted by a rise in early onset dementias, particularly in males, which are more frequently occurring at younger ages.
Iain Temperton

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Many older people live in rural areas where there is little if any public transport left and the distances between home and local shops, services preclude walking or cycling for most people as a practical option.

I think it is also rather patronising to a generation of people who have been far more active travellers than all of us who are following them.

To encourage more active travel by younger people e.g. under 50s, by all means I'm with you on that but there are still real practical limitations in rural areas.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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I'm sure I'm not the only reader who presumed the phrase in the headline 'senior drivers' referred to much older people than 55. Does something happen to our capabilities on the road when we turn 55 that I missed?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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One of the key initiatives should be to wean elderley people off their cars so that they can retain their active mobility. An over-reliance on motorised elderly mobility that displaces active mobility will probably bring forward the time when they cannot use the car at all.

Whilst maintaining driving standards is, of course, important for the over 55s, we need to create road environments that will promote and protect their active mobility. The "active elderly" not only enjoy better levels of fitness but also demand correspondingly lower health care costs.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Many road safety teams around the UK offer older drivers training, assessment and refresher courses similar to this one to help to keep capable older drivers up to date and driving safely and to support those for whom it is time to stop driving. Most of the older drivers we work with need some help to adapt to the effects of ageing and some really do need to find other ways to get around.

Road Safety GB is currently working with the Department for Transport and others to develop a single national programme that will incorporate all the most important factors.

We are also working with the Road Safety Foundations Older Drivers Task Force, chaired by John Plowman. The aim of this group of influential leaders in their fields is to provide practical support for older drivers and their families in the form of a comprehensive national strategy. Initiatives to be considered include a focus on self-help, driver assistance technologies, better in-vehicle protection and road design for older drivers. The Task Force will review national and international evidence and best practice. It is expected to report its findings to government in mid-2016.

As road safety professionals we are very aware of the concerns around this issue and the sensitivities involved. With a growing proportion of elderly people who have cars, indeed who need their cars to get around, and the increase in some health conditions such as dementia, this is a high priority for us. There is a lot of work going on with all sorts of specialists working together to find the best ways forward that will reduce risk on our roads and also treat older people with respect and consideration.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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Sounds like a good initiative. Being 57, I hoped I had some way to go before being considered 'senior' :-)
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

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What happens if the person is deemed unfit to drive? Lack of confidence might be a way of recognising you are a danger. See

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