Rally legend Paddy Hopkirk has been appointed Mature Driver Ambassador by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and will be championing the cause of older drivers for this organisation in future.
Paddy needs no introduction to a generation of motorsport enthusiasts of a certain age. He won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 in a Mini Cooper, and he and his co-driver Henry Liddon remain the only all-UK crew to win the iconic event.
Belfast-born Paddy went on to win other world championship rallies, arguably the greatest of which was the Acropolis in 1967. However he and co-drivers Alec Poole and Tony Nash became famous for giving up a certain victory in the epic 1968 London-Sydney Marathon, when they stopped to rescue a fellow rally driver from his car which had burst into flames – undoubtedly saving his life.
Paddy received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours this year and said:
“I am delighted to be involved with the IAM. Our joint goal is to bring the numbers of people killed and injured on the roads down as low as we can. With the numbers of drivers over 70 increasing by more than 10,000 a month, the IAM’s Mature Driver Assessment (MDA) is a great way for older people to gain the reassurance they often need on increasingly congested British roads.”
Older vs younger motorists
To those who imagine older motorists might be less competent on our roads, the reverse is actually the case. In fact, older drivers are statistically less likely to commit a motoring offence than those in their teens and 20s and are less likely to be in a serious or fatal road accident.
However some older drivers face certain challenges such as coping with reflexes that are not as keen as before, deteriorating eyesight or hearing, and the potential onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The IAM believes that practical actions can help older drivers keep safe and competently mobile for longer, and can help them decide when the time has come to stop driving. It’s worth remembering that giving up driving too early (based on an age limit for all perhaps) places a direct burden on health and other services as well as depriving a perfectly safe motorist of her independence.
Mature Driver Assessment
The Mature Driver’s Assessment (MDA) is a 60-minute one-off session in the driver’s own vehicle administered by a qualified assessor. The assessment gives an overview of any areas of the candidate’s driving that might need improving as well as any areas of concern.
There is no pass/fail rating at the end, but every candidate is given a written report of how they have performed. Paddy himself has taken the Mature Driver’s Assessment and, needless to say, fared extremely well in it.
He said: “I really enjoyed taking the MDA. Everyone needs to revisit their abilities, and to get that from someone who is both independent and sympathetic to the driver is very valuable.”
Paddy added: “Everyone can be a better, safer driver – even someone who has won races and rallies.”