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Evalu-It results herald change for older driver programme

Thursday 30th May 2013

While evaluation of a refresher programme for older drivers in Dorset highlighted positive aspects of the scheme, it has also brought about changes in the way it will be delivered in the future to drivers aged 75+ years.

The Dorset Driver theory and practical refresher programme aims to raise awareness, build confidence and improve knowledge and skill among the county’s ‘older’ drivers. It has been developed over the past 20 years with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of collisions involving older drivers.

Dorset’s road safety team used the DfT/RoSPA Evalu-It toolkit to evaluate the programme. The results show that people who participate in the scheme view it positively, and data from the two observed drives suggest three quarters of those taking part committed fewer errors in their second drive (after being through the programme).

However, drivers' recall of the themes they found most beneficial from the theory and first practical session - road positioning and judgement of speed and distance - were not matched by improved performance in the second practical session.

The evaluation also suggests the existing programme may be too generic and attracts drivers in the age range 55-74 years, who are at lower risk of collision than those above this age.

With research indicating that drivers aged 80+ may have more ‘blameworthy’ crashes turning right at junctions, and greater difficulty judging oncoming vehicle speed and distance, the evaluation recommends that a tailored theory and practical programme for the ‘older, older’ driver may be more effective.

Robert Smith, Dorset’s road safety ETP manager, said: “The evaluation has changed the way we view delivery of our ‘older’ driver intervention. Thanks to the Evalu-It toolkit we will now be turning our attention to a different group of older drivers and trying to focus attention on specific skills.

“Together with our partners in Dorset Road Safe, we have enlisted the support of Warwick University to help us carry out a more robust evaluation of our new intervention aimed at those aged 75+ years.”

For more information contact Robert Smith on 01305 224680.

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Good to see the work of Prof John Wann and Dr Catherine Purcell referenced. This found that the young and elderly have very much reduced "looming" detection.

They also found that the profile of "looming detection" against age very closely followed the profile of collisions involving cars pulling out of junctions into the path of oncoming cars against the age of driver.

Of course this all begs the question as to how much we create a street network environment that accommodates such mistakes or whether we simply legislate the young and old off of our streets to protect them from danger.
Rod King - 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

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+5

An excellent example of best practice, in my opinion. Robert and his team should be congratulated for not only undertaking and then acting on the findings of this evaluation exercise, but then sharing their experiences with colleagues. This example will be added to the Road Safety Knowledge Centre in due course.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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+17