By Rob Banks
Elderly drivers are being asked by Suffolk Police to give driving lessons to teenaged learners to ensure they prepare properly for the cut-and-thrust of the county’s roads.
It forces young people to pick up all the safety tricks needed to negotiate routes through Suffolk, including:
– Driving at no more than 20mph (even on the A12 and A14)
– Pootling along in the middle of the road, with no regard for the central markings
– Parking at 45 degree angles in car parks, or simply straddling two parking bays
– Undergoing 14-point turns
– Over-revving the engine
– Not using fourth gear and above
– Failing to indicate on roundabouts
– Falling asleep at junctions (then waking up and taking off without looking, often through a red light)
– Giving cyclist no more than four inches of space
– Taking ten minutes to unlock the petrol cap at garages
Trials in Bury St Edmunds have proved successful, with a group of 20 OAPs hired to give mandatory lessons to teenagers.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Juliet ‘Foxtrot’ Oscar said: “We realised that young people were taking their lessons, passing their tests and then finding that they were not prepared for the driving habits of others on the road.
“Elderly people have a unique driving style all of their own, particularly in Suffolk, so we have proved it is safer for them to teach this to the younger generation.
“Now even teenagers can drive slowly and erratically and everyone is happy. If there is an accident, it is now just blamed it on ‘medication’ or forgetfulness.”
The trial is now being spread to the rest of Suffolk, with police on the lookout for typical pensioners behind the wheel in Ipswich.
“The more unpredictable their driving, the better,” added Sgt Oscar.
One young driver, Duane Eddy of Mildenhall, said the course had been beneficial. “Whereas before I might have driven at 30mph through town, I now realise it is safer to do 20, and then stick with that speed no matter what, even when I head out on the dual carriageway.
“Also, I was taught lane discipline is a thing of the past, and worrying about parking with respect for others is unnecessary.
“It is clear we can learn so much from our elders.”
The Home Office is keeping a close eye on the scheme with a view to rolling it out nationally.
“The elderly of Suffolk are the driving force behind road safety, and should be applauded,” a spokesman said.