Wessex DriveAbility, part of the Driving Mobility network of driving assessment centres, has launched a new fitness to drive scheme for drivers referred to the charity by Dorset Police.
Driving Mobility accredits twenty independent organisations which offer professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability. Wessex DriveAbility is part of this network with a main assessment centre in Southampton and further locations in Basingstoke, Salisbury, Ferndown and the Isle of Wright. Its team of Approved Driving Instructors, Occupational Therapists and Administrators provide comprehensive driving assessments for individuals who refer themselves to the service or are put forward by the DVLA or Motability. Wessex Driveability has also managed referrals from Hampshire Constabulary since 2013 which has now been extended to Dorset Police. This agreement, part of the ‘Older Drivers’ Forum’, provides a possible alternative for drivers who are to be prosecuted or fined following a road traffic accident or incident. Other areas which currently operate this scheme are South Wales, Cornwall, East Anglia and Newcastle.
If a driver aged 70 or over has been identified by the Police for driving ‘without due care and attention’ or ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place’, they can be referred to Wessex DriveAbility for a fitness-to-drive assessment. This is not a legal requirement for each driver however it provides an opportunity to avoid further legal action or attendance on courses such as speed awareness sessions. Following the driving assessment, Wessex DriveAbility submits a report to Dorset Police which concludes whether the driver is safe to drive, requires training or must cease indefinitely. If it is recommended that the driver should cease driving, the findings are compiled with the Police’s initial incident report and sent to the DVLA who then make a final decision.
Rachel Odell, Wessex DriveAbility Centre Manager, comments: “We were the first Driving Mobility Centre to pioneer this programme with Hampshire Police and are delighted that the Dorset Force are now on-board. This provides a vital choice for older drivers who wish to replace potential prosecution, points or a fine, with a positive alternative. Here at Wessex, we focus on providing safe driving independence for people of all ages and abilities. Our comprehensive assessment services, led by healthcare and driving specialists, are ideally suited to support the Police – helping to deliver a better approach to driving and awareness of personal capabilities. Ultimately this service assists with safety for all road users and we look forward to working with other Constabularies in the future.”