Have you got years of experience behind the wheel? Are you due for a license renewal? When did you last have a refresher course for your driving? Have you kept up with changes to the road code? Do you know how ageing can affect your driving?
Age Concern is delighted to be working with Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and with the support of the New Zealand Police to deliver free ‘Staying Safe’ refresher courses for older drivers in every region of New Zealand.
Most older drivers are experienced, safe drivers who are great role models for younger drivers, but as they get older, health changes can impact on their ability to drive.
In New Zealand, when one turns 65, the process for renewing a drivers’ licence changes. The 10-year renewal period shortens and by the time one reaches 75, seniors are asked to renew their licence with a medical certificate.
Prior to turning 75, drivers will receive a driver licence reminder in the mail where they will be asked to complete a driver licence application form and to attend a local health centre to get a medical check-up to ensure that they are still safe behind the wheel.
On completion of the assessment, the doctor or nurse will advise whether the applicant is medically fit to drive. If they have clearance to drive or to drive with conditions, they will be able to take the application with the medical certificate to their local driver licencing agent to apply for their new licence.
For older drivers concerned about renewing their licenses however, Age Concern offers free ‘Staying Safe’ refresher courses.
Age Concern New Zealand Staying Safe National Course Coordinator Hariata Hema is passionate about keeping older people driving and safe on the road.
“We know older drivers are involved in fewer accidents than other age groups as they often drive conservatively and travel less distances, but if they are involved in an accident, it can be more serious for them as it takes longer to heal and recover.” says Hariata.
The aim of the Staying Safe refresher courses is to provide evidence-based education to help seniors:
- Increase their knowledge about driving and ageing
- Assess their current driving behaviour
- Adapt their driving behaviour
- Build an appropriate level of confidence on the roads (without instilling false or over confidence).
“We need to remember road layouts can change and the Road Code can be updated without us being aware; so, our ‘Staying Safe’ refresher course is a good way for older drivers to refresh their skills and local knowledge in a friendly and welcoming workshop,” continues Hariata.
“It is an amazing privilege to do the work I do. I love seeing and hearing stories about people’s hopes and aspirations, and how our Staying Safe refresher course is making a difference to them.
“One woman I met told me the course literally changed her life. She is now driving confidently, when before she had extremely low confidence. She is far more social and independent.
“People come along for several reasons, but high on the list is because they need to renew their licence, says Hariata.
The ‘Staying Safe’ course is comprised of four-hours classroom-based learning and is interactive, answering any questions the participants might have. The theory-based course is divided into four parts:
1. Keeping safe: Thinking about your driving safety
2. Being safe: driving skills
3. Safe journeys: managing road situations
4. Keep moving safely: safe alternatives to driving.
Every person who attends the course is issued with a certificate and a workbook to take away.
Classes are now available across Aotearoa and will take place throughout the year.
To book a spot call 0800 65 2 105 or visit www.ageconcern.org.nz
How can you help Age Concern New Zealand uphold the rights of older people?
Belittling older people and assuming they are incapable of making their own choices are examples of having an ageist attitude. This behaviour must stop. These small disrespectful remarks can lead to more serious acts of abuse which really concerns us.
Stand against ageism with us – sign up at ageconcern.org.nz as an Age Concern New Zealand Dignity Champions and pledge to:
- Reject stereotypes and focus on the uniqueness of every individual
- Speak up when you hear people speaking negatively about growing old
- Have the courage to question practices they feel are disrespectful to older people
- Be patient, polite and friendly
- Have zero tolerance for abuse or neglect
- Build relationships
“So much information I never knew. A relaxed presenter with a sense of humour. An excellent course – reminded me to be vigilant driving around town and on longer trips.”
“The whole course was extremely informative – has me thinking many other ways about driving and ageing. A good all-round course.”
“The course boosted my confidence. I feel good about going to get my license renewed now.”
“Others are experiencing similar problems. I will try to be more aware of blind spots.”
If you would like more details about being an Age Concern Dignity Champion, please visit www.ageconcern.org.nz. You can also make a donation to Age Concern New Zealand to support our working keeping older New Zealander’s happy, healthy, and safe on the roads.