Cornwall Council scheme launched to help older drivers stay safe
Older drivers who fear their driving skills might be getting a bit rusty can now be assessed by instructors to put their minds at rest.
The new "RoadFit" scheme was launched this week by Cornwall Council.
It is all part of the authority's wider "Driving Safer for Longer" initiative designed to cut the number of deaths on the county's roads and serious injuries.
Data released by the council showed that between 2007 and 2011 some 124 people over the age of 65 were killed or seriously injured on Cornwall's roads.
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Furthermore, the top two most common causes for crashes, involving drivers of all ages, was failing to look properly, and not correctly judging another motorist's speed or path.
Launched at County Hall in Truro, the new scheme allows GPs in the county to refer older patients who may be concerned about their driving ability to the council's Road Safety team for an assessment drive.
The assessments will be conducted by qualified driving instructors in the patient's own car.
Drivers will motor along the roads and lanes they are familiar with and use often.
Afterwards, the instructor will write out a report – a copy of which will be handed both to the patient and to the GP.
Between them, patient and doctor will discuss what, if any, further action needs to be taken.
The instructors and doctors will be able to offer advice on how the patient continues to drive safely for as long as is feasible.
Possible advice might include information on adaptations to the patient's vehicle, or exercises to develop better strength and flexibility.
Chris Billing, the council's road safety officer, stressed older drivers were not at greater risk of being caught up in a crash.
He said the age factor means older drivers might not recover as well from injuries as a younger person.
He said: "While people over 65 are not markedly more at risk of being involved in a collision, they are generally more vulnerable to its consequences.
"They are not better or worse drivers than any other age group but are more likely to be seriously injured if they are involved in a crash."