OLDER drivers are being urged to take advantage of the help available after a Southampton pensioner accidentally reversed into deep water.

The 70-year-old went for a drive in the New Forest and was attempting to turn his vehicle around when he shot down a slipway.

He was rescued by nearby residents, who pulled him from the water, and was taken to hospital for a check-up.

The driver was later diagnosed with vascular dementia, a gradually worsening condition that causes bouts of confusion.

He surrendered his licence following the incident, which occurred at Lymington in February.

Sergeant Nick Tucker, of Hampshire police, said: “We all grow older and our eyesight and some of our abilities diminish over the course of time.

"We do not always know, notice or realise that this is happening.

"If you have an older relative or friend who drives, speak to them about their driving and how they feel about it. Remind and encourage them to have their eyesight routinely checked and if they have any concerns about their health, have them speak to their GP about driving.

“With the support of this driver and his family we wanted to highlight this incident to show the real life implications of growing older and driving.

"He surrendered his driving licence with dignity. It is lucky he did not lose his life."

Sergeant Tucker said Older Drivers Forum, which could help mature motorists stay on the road for longer by providing practical help or helping them identify any aids they needed such as wing mirror adapters or an elevated seat.

The not-for-profit organisation comprises road safety experts, including representatives from the emergency services and businesses specialising in keeping older people on the road.

Sergeant Dave Hazlett said: "Many older drivers have a wealth of experience. However, as we get older our sight, hearing, reaction times and judgement of speed and distance may not be as sharp as they once were.

"Our advice is don’t wait until you have a near miss, or worse an accident, to convince you to review your driving ability or to stop driving.

"Take preventative measures by planning ahead and seeking advice and support early."



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