At 88, Joan Lardner-Rivlin has no plans to hang up her car keys.

The pensioner from Beach Haven is one of many senior drivers doing a free practical driving session with AA. From today, AA will offer the session every two years for its members aged 80 and above.

"I think it's a great idea," Lardner-Rivlin said. "It's a long time since most have sat their test, and cars have changed a lot over time and the traffic has built up. It will be great for rebuilding a bit of confidence in senior drivers."

Lardner-Rivlin, originally from South Africa, lived and drove in Zambia, England and Hong Kong before moving to New Zealand in 1971.


"Driving gives independence, with independence comes self-esteem and choice - myself and friends that are my age that drive, can choose to drive ourselves or get lifts with each other if we want to."

AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn hoped the sessions would give senior drivers more confidence on the road.

"Things have changed dramatically on the roads to compensate for more traffic and different forms of transport, which we know from our research tends to intimidate some senior drivers," he said. "Giving them a chance to navigate these changes with an instructor and in their own car helps to confirm their awareness of their own skills and build their confidence, which also makes them safer on the road."

Venn also hoped the sessions might allow some seniors to continue driving for longer.