Older Drivers Task Force

Task ForceHampshire Constabulary’s groundbreaking drive supporting older motorists to stay safe on our roads has today (JULY 4) reached the House of Commons.

Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard will join leading experts from across the country in London today to recommend an action plan that will help make older drivers safer for longer.

With an ageing population, the Older Drivers Task Force believes it vital to take steps to give older drivers the support and confidence they need to ensure they retain their independence, while dismantling the stigma wrongly attached to elderly motorists.

The key recommendation announced today is to raise the age for when older motorists have to make the mandatory self-declaration that they are still fit to drive from 70 to 75.

However, this should only be implemented if proof of an eye sight test is made compulsory.

These recommendations form part of the Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age report, which sets out a national older driver strategy.

Police data suggests that older drivers are less likely to be involved in crashes than young drivers. They are, however, more fragile and four times more likely to die or be seriously injured in a road accident.

More than 25 experts and organisations in transport, health, policing licensing, car manufacturing and insurance joined forces to produce the report, which has seven key recommendations.

To see the report, click here

Recommendations include:

1. Raising the automatic requirement for drivers to notify the DVLA at age 70 of any medical condition affecting driving to 75 – if the requirement for an eye sight test is made compulsory

2. Requiring the DVLA to get evidence of an eyesight test at licence renewal

3. Asking a consumer body to prepare specific advice on modern car safety features that are of special significance for older drivers – and consider “silver” NCAP-style assessment

4. Improving road design, signs and markings to meet the highest international standards specifically to aid older drivers but bringing benefits for all drivers

5. Evaluating existing driving appraisal courses and improving information provided to older drivers, their families, and medical professionals

6. Piloting new products which offer an alternative to driving for older people.

7. Pooling insurer data and research into major claims involving older drivers to understand the detailed causes.

IMG00014-20160704-1614Sergeant Rob Heard has played an instrumental role in improving support for older drivers, setting up the innovative Older Drivers Forum in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, back in June 2013.

Since then it has won celebrity backing from journalists John Sergeant and Jennie Bond.

The work by the forum locally has also been recognised by the report, which has also called for a National Older Drivers Awareness week, something that has been run in Hampshie and the Isle of Wight over the last three years. The next once starts on September 26.

Sgt Heard said: “I have been proud to be part of this national task force and share the great work we have been doing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to support older drivers with our Older Drivers Forum partnership.

“I feel that should the recommendations be agreed then we will go a long way to help and support the mature motorist to carry on driving safely for longer in our ageing population

“The Older Drivers Forum in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has already helped in supporting and guiding the older motorists and other interested parties in keeping safe on the road.

“The forum is made up of experts in road safety from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – from representatives from the emergency services, to charities, local authorities and businesses specialising in keeping older people on the road.

“Whether that’s helping giving practical and informative help and support to continue driving or pointing older drivers in the right direction for an assessment to identify their driving needs’.

“You can learn more about the forum on their web page and see advice videos for older drivers, get practical and informative advice for not only older drivers, but for friends and families and GP’s.”

The task force, welcomed by the Government, is managed by the Road Safety Foundation and supported by Ageas, the leading insurer of older drivers.

John Plowman, chairman of the Older Drivers Task Force, said: “Our aim is to help older people drive safely for longer by changing our culture.

“A key precondition is that older motorists should be medically fit to drive and seek advice when a limiting condition develops or gets worse, but age itself should not be a barrier to safe driving.

“Encouraging voluntary, confidential driving appraisals so that they become the norm not a stigma and helping older drivers understand and use the latest safety-driven vehicle technology will make a big difference.

“People are living longer, healthier, more active lives, and driving longer. The number of drivers over 85 will double to 1 million by 2025, many without access to public transport. This influx of older drivers has important economic and social value but it also presents road safety risks if we don’t adapt.

“Getting to grips with these risks, without limiting the independence and freedoms of the elderly is an important policy challenge – one to be tackled by the appointment of a minister with responsibility for older drivers.”