A new scheme aiming to keep elderly motorists driving safely has been launched by Dorset Police and Lord Julian Fellowes.
The event- named the Older Drivers’ Forum – has been set up to offer training and guidance for elderly motorists who want to continue to travel by car, as well as provide advice for those who want to hang up their car keys once and for all.
The first launch session took place yesterday (Tuesday) in Ferndown and has continued today (Wednesday) with elderly drivers and family members attending.
Watch Lord Fellowes discuss the scheme below:
Oscar winner, Lord Fellowes, says he knows all too well how hard it is to convince some drivers to retire.
“My mother-in-law does have a friend that will not give up [driving] and she is now in her mid-nineties and her car looks like something from the dodgems!
At the moment it stays this side of funny but it won’t be this side of funny when she hits not another car, another person.
“It is definitely time for her to give up and anything that will help such people realise that they’re not diminishing themselves they’re just moving onto the next chapter.”
Lord Fellowes, who was speaking at the Ferndown event, believes that some elderly people are afraid of the consequences that come with giving up driving.
“I think that growing old is difficult and I speak as someone who is nearly 70.
With driving you can be a danger to yourself and other people, however having said that the main thrust of this campaign is to show people how much they’ve got as alternatives to driving now.
“One of the difficulties for older people understanding that it’s time to hang up their car keys is they’re frightened of what their life will be afterwards- will they be immobile? Will they be lonely? The main thrust of this [forum] is giving answers to that.”
In 2016, there were 125 recorded traffic incidents involving drivers aged 70 or over in Dorset.
PC Heidi Moxam, who is responsible for casualty reduction in the area, says the forum has been created to prevent these kind of accidents from happening in the future.
“There are several simple things that we can do to continue to help us drive safely for as long as possible like taking regular driving assessments and any need for refresher training and that’s what we’re trying to help people with.
We’ve got over 96,000 full driving licence holders who are over 70 in Dorset at present so there seems to be a need to address this community and give them the extra signposting and needs they may have.”
Denise Ann-Sherer, who has 43 years of driving experience, says the forum has helped rebuild her confidence behind the wheel after she was involved in a frightening crash.
The 68 year-old said:
“As an older driver you do get worried, are you doing the right things?
I had an accident some years ago and I was squashed by a coach so I don’t drive on motorways anymore because I get a little bit nervous when things are too close to me.
“I’ve never been to one [forum] before but I’m so pleased I have- I plan to continue driving because I’ve got good reactions!”
The Older Drivers’ Forum will conclude tomorrow (Thursday) at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Owermoigne with the event taking place between 10am and 3pm.