Older Drivers Forum Chair gets National award

Sgt Rob Heard - Chair of Older Drivers Forum - with Hampshire Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Sgt Rob Heard – Chair of Older Drivers Forum – with Hampshire Chief Constable Andy Marsh

It is with great pride that we announce that our Older Drivers Forum chair, Sgt Rob Heard, has after years of dedication to keeping the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safe on our roads has been awarded the ACPO and Police Federation Outstanding Contribution to Roads Policing Award 2014.

Rob, who has worked within the Roads Policing Unit for 22 years and is currently the force lead on road safety, was presented with the award on Thursday night (January 15) in recognition of his work creating and establishing the Older Drivers Forum.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “I am very proud of the work Rob has done in helping to keep older drivers stay on the road, safely”.

At some stage, we ourselves will be older drivers, and most of us know older drivers now. This forum and its website are a fantastic resource to help inform and reassure. This award is very well deserved recognition.”

The Older Drivers Forum was set up in 2013 with the aim of keeping older drivers safely on the roads for longer, and helping relatives and carers deal with the issues that can be associated with older drivers.

The forum was Rob’s idea, and he has worked tirelessly to liaise with partner agencies including local authorities, health, Age Concern and Age UK, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Forum of Mobility Centres and Institute of Advance Motorists to co-ordinate its many activities and support services.

It is basically about raising awareness of the services available to drivers aged 60 plus to help keep them driving safely for longer, and to encourage people to have regular eye-sight tests and, especially, take voluntary assessments to help build confidence and understand whether they remain fit to drive”.

The forum can also provide assessments to check, following a collision, whether a person is safe or not to continue and, where appropriate, signpost refresher training. There are currently just over four million people aged 70 and above driving on the UK’s roads, the oldest person to hold a driving licence is a man aged 106″.

Research predicts that, with people living longer, these numbers will double if not treble in the next 20 years”.

“I feel greatly honoured to have received this award. It feels a bit like winning an Oscar in the roads policing world. I would like to dedicate this award to Neil Colquhoun and his mother Patricia, who were the inspiration behind the creation of the forum”.

“Neil tragically died in a collision in 2011 when an 89-year-old man drove the wrong way for over a mile along the A30 at Old Basing. His car collided head-on with Neil’s. Neil died at the scene and our investigation found that the 89-year-old man was blind in one eye and below the legal eyesight limit in the other. However, he felt he was genuinely fit to drive. From that, we came up with the idea of the forum, and we hope by doing so we can prevent another tragedy like this. We are not about taking people off the road – we are about trying to help people keep their independence and carry on driving safely, for longer.”

In the 18 months since it was established, the forum’s website has had in excess of 20,000 hits and is used as a resource nationally. It has also run two weeks of awareness events across both counties which have been attended by more than 1000 people.

Rob is also now a national lead on older driver issues and is helping the Department for Transport and Road Safety Foundation develop national strategy in this growing area.

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