AA to drive home safety to elderly drivers

  • 01/08/2016
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 06:  Evening traffic crawls along Auckland's  Northwestern Motorway, State Highway 16, near Western Springs on May 6, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Waterview Connection is the construction of a motorway link between State Highway 20 to State Highway 16.  (Photo by Jason Oxenham/Getty Images)

AA has launched a new driving programme aimed at keeping those in their golden years safe on the road.

From the beginning of August, AA members 80 years and older can take up the offer of a free practical driving session every two years.

"It's called AA Senior Drivers and it's specifically designed to help senior drivers stay confident and safe behind the wheel," a spokesperson says.

Our need for vehicles doesn't just end when we retire says AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn.

At age 75 drivers are assessed by a doctor to make sure they're fit to continue driving and may be required to sit the on-road test.

"After we turn 80, that process occurs every two years, so the Senior Drivers programme coincides with that," says Mr Venn.

"Whether you're 18, 45 or 80, the truth is we all want to retain the mobility, freedom and independence that driving gives us," he says.

"We know when seniors stop driving it has a massive impact on their lives. They feel isolated from friends and family, experience a sense of loss of control and struggle to run their everyday errands and tasks."

For many senior drivers new road infrastructure or traffic hotspots can be intimidating, Mr Venn says.

"Giving them a chance to navigate these changes with an instructor and in their own car helps to confirm their awareness of their own skills and build their confidence, which also makes them safer on the road."

If involved in a crash, the elderly are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed because they're more frail than younger drivers. The AA believes the initiative will help elderly drivers safely extend the life of their driver licence.

"With majority of all crashes on New Zealand roads coming down to driver error, we believe a regular skills refresh is a positive way to keep some of our most vulnerable drivers safe on the road," Mr Venn says.

For more information visit the AA website or call 0800 223 748.