KEEP ON DRIVING

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As we get older the likelihood of being injured on the road increases so it's helpful to become more aware of the potential hazards and how to avoid them. The roads, the amount of traffic and the types of cars we drive have all changed dramatically over the years so maybe this is a good time for drivers aged over 60 to take advantage of attending a free driving assessment that is funded by Gwynedd Council.

The free driving assessment is open to all drivers aged 60 years and over gives individuals the opportunity to have a qualified driving instructor go out with them in their own car for a short drive, on a familiar route, to offer tips and advice on staying safe and well behind the wheel as well as asking any questions to ensure that they are up to date with the current laws and requirements of being a safer driver.

Recently Dick White, aged 79 from Criccieth took the two hour driving assessment in his own car with Gwynedd’s assessor Mr Wyn Peate. Mr White explained “ I  passed my  advanced motorist test over thirty years ago and was very aware that I had picked up bad driving habits over the years, when I heard about the scheme that was aimed at keeping mature drivers driving for longer I was eager to take part. I simply filled in an application form; a short time later I was contacted by the Instructor to arrange a mutually convenient date. I was so impressed with the scheme, the assessment brought out both my strengths and weaknesses which have resulted in my improved driving skills.  I have recommended the scheme to several friends, the majority have gone on to take the driving assessment and have agreed that Mr Peate a former school teacher‘s expertise knowledge and knack of putting people at ease was to be commended “.

Mature drivers have often held their licence for many years and the vast majority will not have undertaken any further training since passing their test, despite significant changes in driving conditions and potentially, their own ability. A majority of mature drivers will effectively self-regulate their driving as they get older, avoiding certain locations and not driving at certain times of the daylight, this behaviour restricts the individuals. However, by being proactive and taking the driving assessment mature drivers will be able to retain the independence that a car gives them whilst also ensuring they continue to drive safely. Wales has, and is projected to continue to have the most aged population in the United Kingdom; the proportion of mature drivers is rising and has not seen comparable reductions in casualties.

Colin Jones, Chairman of the Gwynedd Môn Road Safety Partnership said "Fortunately older drivers are not as represented in road collisions as other groups - but when they do crash, they can suffer more severe injuries. Our bodies change with age, bones become more brittle, eyesight becomes less sharp and reactions can slow down".

He added, “Research has shown that older drivers are more prone to crash when they might have to make a decision quickly. An example might be the need to act quickly because of time pressures or react to an emergency situation when driving"

If you are interested in taking part in this scheme please call 01286 679 901 or e mail – partneriaethgm@gwynedd.gov.uk