For 84-year-old Rosemary Michie driving is all about independence.

From this month the AA is offering one free practical driving session every two years to its members aged 80 and older.

AA Senior Drivers is specifically designed to help senior drivers stay confident and safe behind the wheel.

Mrs Michie said she thought it was an "excellent" idea and she would certainly be taking the sessions.


As a member of AA she applauded the initiative.

"It never hurts anyone to update their skills and knowledge."

She said driving had changed over the years and traffic was getting heavier.

Mrs Michie said driving was important to her because she lived where there was no bus service and she belonged to quite a few organisations, whose meetings she liked to attend.

Having to take a taxi to go shopping would be expensive and a nuisance, she said.

"I like to be independent. I have the best neighbours in the world, but you don't like to be dependent on other people."

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Mrs Michie said she had a few friends who did not drive, but they lived on bus routes which made a difference.

She said she thought independence would be a main factor for most elderly people who drove.

Mrs Michie has been driving for about 55 years and learnt how to drive in Canada.

AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn said as a car loving nation, our need for our vehicles did not just end once retired.

"Whether you're 18, 45 or 80, the truth is we all want to retain the mobility, freedom and independence that driving gives us.

"We know when seniors stop driving it has a massive impact on their lives. They feel isolated from friends and family, experience a sense of loss of control and struggle to run their everyday errands and tasks."

He said things had changed dramatically on the roads to compensate for more traffic and different forms of transport, which they knew from their research tended to intimidate some senior drivers.

Mr Venn said at age 75 people had to be assessed by a doctor to see if they were fit to continue driving, and may be required to sit the on-road test again.

He said after people turned 80, that occured every two years, so the Senior Drivers programme coincided with that."