Free driver assessments for eligible senior drivers

Warwickshire County Council has teamed up with IAM Roadsmart and Specsavers, to provide and promote, free driving assessments for eligible mature drivers.

Warwickshire County Council’s Road Safety Team is working in collaboration with IAM Roadsmart to offer a limited number of free assessments, worth £49, for drivers over 70 years old, who would benefit from a driving assessment.

The Mature Driver Assessment is not a test, but an informal review to reassure drivers, and their families, of the driver’s ability to continue driving. An IAM qualified expert will go out with the driver, in their own car, on familiar local roads for one hour, to watch out for areas where their skills may need adjusting.  After the review, they will receive feedback on their skills and a written account of the session, which includes any suggestions for improvement.  It’s a completely personal report, and is shared with no one else. After the assessment, it is the driver who decides whether they are still fit to drive.

When Specsavers heard about the initiative they offered to step in to help spread the word to eligible drivers. Now the County Council is working with Specsavers to help eligible mature drivers become aware of the tests alongside having a full free eye examination to ensure they are safe to drive.

People visiting Specsavers stores across Warwickshire can take a simple driver’s vision check to see if they can read a number plate from the driving standard distance of 20 metres, with full free eye examinations being offered to all those who take part. They may then be told about the Mature Driver Assessment.

One of the first people to take advantage of the free assessment was Jean Phipps (aged 82) of Warwick. Mrs Phipps said: “I was nervous at the thought of an assessed drive, but the assessor was lovely and made me feel totally at ease.  I found the advice he gave me at the end of the session really valuable and I shall be putting it into practice next time I go out.  I am certainly going to promote the Mature Drivers Assessment to my friends and will take another assessment again in three years time.”

Warwickshire has an increasingly ageing population with a growing number of drivers aged over 70 on the roads. Research shows that as drivers reach the age of 70, road incidents involving this group of road users increases, and they are more likely to be the cause of an incident.

Various factors, physical and psychological, can cause the driving of an older person to deteriorate, and whilst drivers must renew their licence at 70 (and every three years thereafter), there is no legal requirement to retake their driving test. This can be a problem, as older drivers are often reluctant to relinquish their licence, and with it, their independence – and families are often reluctant to raise the subject.

Councillor Les Caborn, Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health said: “We’re delighted to be working with IAM Roadsmart and Specsavers to provide and promote these free driving assessments for eligible mature drivers.  If you, or a friend or relative living in Warwickshire feel you may benefit from this valuable opportunity then please get in touch. We want all our older drivers to drive safely and with confidence.”

Ambreena Bhatti, Store Director, Specsavers Kenilworth said: “On the back of our support of Road Safety Week this winter, it seemed fitting to help spread the word about the free assessments offered locally by Warwickshire County Council”

Below is a list of signs to look out for if you are concerned about an older driver:

  • Slower reaction times than usual
  • Difficulty turning head
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Lack of confidence
  • Restricted movements
  • Reaction to new medication
  • Worsening eyesight
  • They report getting lost or confused during their journey
  • They report having a near miss during their journey
  • Their passengers are concerned about their driving

Other considerations:

  • Certain medical conditions must be reported to the DVLA, these include epilepsy, stroke and other neurological conditions, mental health, physical disabilities. See guidance note DVLA INF94 for further details.
  • Everyone over 60 is eligible for a free eye test – when did they last have their eyes tested?

To book a free assessment, (worth £49), drivers, or people calling on their behalf, should call: 0300 303 1134 during office hours and quote reference: WCC.

For further information about the scheme (but not booking) call the Road Safety Team on 01926 418062 or email: roadsafetyeducation@warwickshire.gov.uk