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Rally legend Paddy takes the hot seat for older drivers

Paddy_MAIN.RALLY CAR legend Paddy Hopkirk has taken on a new role – championing older drivers.

Paddy, 82, has been appointed Mature Driver Ambassador by UK’s leading independent road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

The Belfast-born driver, who received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours this year, 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. It’s something I know the IAM is dedicated to just as much as I am, so we are a great match.

Paddy will be promoting the IAM’s Mature Driver’s Assessment (MDA) while also delivering safe driving advice – an area he is passionate about.

He said: “With the numbers of drivers age 70 or more now increasing by over 10,000 a month, the Mature Driver’s Assessment is a great way for older people to gain the reassurance they need on increasingly congested British roads.”

The Mature Driver’s Assessment 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 has taken the assessment and was relieved to find he had faired extremely well in it!

He said: “Everyone needs to revisit their abilities, and to get that from someone who is both independent and sympathetic to the driver is very valuable.”

Many who have taken the assessment then go on to do the IAM’s Skill for Life course leading to the Advanced Test, which gives candidates the chance to gain a comprehensive set of new skills for safer and enjoyable driving.

Paddy added: “Everyone can be a better, safer driver – even someone who has won races and rallies.

“I’ve always said rallying is all about the ability to control the car, not just the speed of it. These are skills that can translate easily to driving on road. You need to get to know your car – how it will act and react if you encounter unexpected conditions.”

Paddy won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 in a Mini Cooper and 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.

Since the end of his active racing career, which includes five starts at the Le Mans 24 Hours and five Circuit of Ireland rally wins, Paddy has continued to be involved in the motor industry. He has run a successful car accessories company, and has promoted the Mini for many years as one of its best-known drivers.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “We are delighted to have Paddy on board. He is the perfect example of how being older shouldn’t be a barrier to a safe and enjoyable motoring life.

“Older drivers should always be aware their faculties might not be what they used to be, but as long as these are identified early and addressed, they shouldn’t be stopped from getting behind the wheel.”


  • 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.
  • In 2014 the IAM discovered that while 36,001 people between 20 and 30 were disqualified from driving in the previous 12 months, just 10,025 people in their fifties and just 3,874 in their sixties were.
  • 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 enlightened policies and practical actions are needed to help older drivers keep safe and competently mobile for as long as possible, and to help them decide when the time has come to stop driving.
  • Giving up driving too early places a direct burden on health and other services, which can no longer be independently accessed.

IAM, tel 0300 303 1134


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