Title: Evaluation of the Dorset Driver Gold Initiative

Organisation: Dorest County Council & University of Warwick
Date uploaded: 19th January 2015
Date published/launched: January 2015

Dorset County Council has been delivering an older driver programme for 20 years and has carried out in-house evaluations of its effectiveness several times in the past few years, amending content and delivery each time. The last evaluation was in 2013 when the "Evalu-It" toolkit was used to help understand whether the intervention was effective or not and why. As a result, a major change in approach was implemented to focus on the very oldest group of drivers (75+) with specific coaching on certain cognitive and physical driving skills that are known to decline through the ageing process.

Subsequently, Warwick University (Dr. Carol Hawley) was commissioned to undertake a robust evaluation of the Dorset Driver Gold (DDG) scheme with 150 older driver volunteers living in Dorset aged between 75 and 91. The evaluation took 18 months to complete.

The evaluation found that the DDG scheme achieved its objectives of successfully training a group of senior drivers and improving their driving skills and confidence as drivers. It was not possible to measure any impact on road safety, but most participants felt that they were better or safer drivers as a result of the on-road driving refresher sessions. Nearly all of the volunteers said that they would make changes to their driving as a result of the course.

The evaluation demonstrated that the scheme met most of the needs and expectations of the drivers who volunteered to be part of it. The DDG scheme was effective in that almost all drivers who took a second practical drive had improved their driving following the training and advice given in the first practical drives. Almost all drivers reduced the number of errors they had made in the first drive.

However, the drivers who volunteered for the scheme were not typical of all older drivers. This view was supported both by the ADIs and by the drivers who took part. Some of the drivers who took part clearly needed some refresher training of their driving, but several others were already confident and competent drivers. These competent drivers were already aware of the importance of road safety and were keen to have formal confirmation that they are good drivers. In the main, these drivers did receive this confirmation and therefore their own expectations of the course were met.

It was noted that more ‘young’ senior drivers volunteered for the DDG scheme than ‘older’ drivers. In future, the evaluation recommends that the scheme is aimed at drivers aged 80 and over, which is also the age when accident rates begin to rise.

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