May 7, 2013

Course Aimed to Make Older Drivers Safer

Older drivers are being encouraged to take a specialised course to ensure their safety whilst driving, in a new move by Lancashire County Council.

The course is aimed at drivers of 65 and over, after concerns were raised about the high number of elderly drivers involved in serious road traffic accidents, after new figures were released revealing that 1 in 8 accidents in the area causing death and injury involved an elderly driver. It aims to boost confidence and correct any bad habits picked up over a lifetime behind the wheel.

The figures also revealed that whilst casualties involving younger drivers are in a slow decline, injuries sustained to drivers over 65 whilst driving have remained at a constant 13.4% for the previous 5 years.

Whilst there are few rules are in place regarding aged drivers, all motorists are required to reapply for their licence every 3 years after turning 70, along with a declaration of being in a good state of health.

The course – titled “Drive Safely for Longer” currently has 100 available places remaining. The process couldn’t be easier, with an instructor coming to the drivers home to carry out the course. Approximately 600 people have passed the course in its relatively short lifespan of two years, and more continue to opt for the course.

In 2011, almost 800 people were killed or seriously hurt in vehicle incidents in Lancashire. However the following year, this dropped 11.4% to 704. Whilst these figures suggest that the issue is slowly but surely improving, safety is still a priority for the council, with an 18% rise in pensioners in the area, bringing the total to 211, 200.

Of this population, three out of four said that they intended to continue driving after retirement – despite the fact that driving abilities are proven to decline with age. “Drive Safely for Longer” aims to encourage drivers of an older age to acknowledge their weaknesses or bad habits picked up after years of driving, and refresh their skills as a motorist.

County Road Safety Manager Paul Binks said: “We’re not interested in catching people out and trying to take their licenses away from them. Our only aim is to help older people to remain behind the wheel safely.”

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