Older motorists are being urged to keep their driving skills well honed in a campaign by Buckinghamshire County Council to reduce the number of collisions.
The campaign highlights the County Council's Mature Driver Scheme course, run under Transport for Buckinghamshire’s 'Be a Better Driver' banner.
And it's being supported strongly by Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw as a way to help keep the county’s mature motorists driving safely for longer.
In the five years from 2009 to 2013 the number of killed and seriously injured collisions involving drivers over 65 rose by almost 60% - from 27 in 2009 to 43 in 2013. In the main, causes were illness, fatigue, distraction and uncorrected defective eyesight.
With an increase in car ownership, a rise in the population aged 65-plus, and longer 'driving careers' among motorists, Mark is concerned there is an increased risk of being involved in a collision.
He said Buckinghamshire's population of over-65s was expected to rise from 84,900 (16.8%) to 115,300 (21.7%) by 2025. 'And I'm concerned that we don't mirror this rise in our collision statistics,' he said.
Since April 2012 more than 260 mature drivers have taken the course - the youngest at 61 and oldest at 94 - and more than a 25% have returned for reassessment: like 85-year-old resident Doreen, who has taken the course five times because she wants to ensure her driving skills are up to date.
Drivers take the course – a one hour assessment costing £37 - in their own car on routes familiar to them, and based on their driving needs. They get a detailed written report outlining recommendations to improve driving tactics.
The aim is to increase drivers awareness of the effects age can have on driving skills and to help them with strategies to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision.
Mark Shaw said there was never a wrong time to encourage older motorists to run a check on their driving skills, and think about regular assessment to help keep them driving safely for longer.
'There's no national statutory refresher course or test for older drivers, and I believe we should do all we can locally to keep our older drivers driving safely on our roads,' he said.
'Courses like our Mature Driver Scheme do an enormous amount to help keep driving skills sharpened and strengthen everyday driving confidence.'
Arthur Edwards, Chairman of Princes Risborough Community Association, agrees. Arthur (71), who has been driving for more than 50 years, was so impressed with the course and the detail it covered, he says he’ll take another in two or three years’ time.
And, he says, he feels a more confident, safer driver. 'I've benefited from a reminder to be more aware of what's going on around me, to use my nearside mirror more often, and I've learned tactics to avoid speed creep,' he said.
More information on the County Council's Mature Driver Assessments: