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16 September 2013, 06:25
Hampshire Police are starting up a series of events, aimed at keeping older drivers safer on the roads.
Representatives from Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council, Institute of Advanced Motorists, Age Concern, Age UK and Hampshire and Wessex Driveability, who are experienced at dealing with older drivers, have created www.olderdriversforum.com as a one-stop shop to offer advice and information to older drivers, their friends and family.
To highlight the types of issues the older driver may experience and encourage motorists to get involved, the forum is running an Older Driver Awareness Week from Monday 23 - Saturday 28 September at locations across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The forum is also launching a series of videos throughout the week which detail the facilities and support available to older drivers, in which scheme patron and former BBC presenter Bruce Parker talks about his experiences of taking both the Wessex Driveability Fitness to Drive and Hampshire County Council's Driver Skills 60+ assessments.
Bruce, who is now in his 70s, speaks about how he feels the ageing process has affected his driving and the support both schemes have given him to ensure he stays safe on the road.
The Older Drivers Awareness events will also provide all those attending with advice and guidance in brushing up driving skills, point them in the right direction for an assessment to identify their driving needs, advice on modifying vehicles to make driving more accessible, and raise awareness with friends and relatives about warning signs for medical conditions that affect driving.
The events will also cover eyesight tests, renewing licences, alternatives to driving, and how to stay independent without a car.
The overall message of the forum is that they are there to help - not discourage motorists from driving.
The Older Driver Forum does not perform any legal function and does not have the authority to remove driving licences. They are merely there to assist older people with staying mobile for as long as possible.
Throughout the week, the campaign will utilise the website and social media to raise awareness of themes including:
- Medical issues
- Updating skills - driving assessments
- The law and individual's responsibilities
- Alternatives to driving
Sergeant Rob Heard, from Hampshire Constabulary's Roads Policing Unit, co-ordinator and chair of the Older Drivers Forum, said:
"The focus of our campaign and key objective is to keep older motorists driving safely for longer and provide them with the support they need to do that.
"We understand how vital it is for the older motorist to keep their independence, and that staying behind the wheel is a very important part of that process.
"Statistics show us that you are no more likely to be involved in a collision at the age of 70 than any other age group. However, age-related decline in mental and physical abilities coupled with age related frailty can make older drivers more likely to be involved in a crash and more vulnerable to serious injuries.
"Once over 70, drivers are more likely to be at fault, particularly where right of way violations are involved. Research has shown that drivers aged over 85 are four times more likely to have caused a crash than having been an innocent victim of one.
"We are dedicated to reducing casualties on our roads and keeping all road users safe, and this forum has been brought together to focus on the specific issues faced by older drivers, and give them all the help and support to carry on driving safely for longer and provide advice about managing without a car if their skills suddenly deteriorate to the point that driving becomes too difficult or unsafe.
"Research has also shown that older drivers reaction times are increased by 22 per cent compared to younger drivers, that is approximately two car lengths at 70 miles per hour - and it issues such as this that we want to raise awareness of and how to overcome them. It does not mean you need to stop driving - sometimes a little assistance can make all the difference."