Kent transport

New driving fitness scheme launched in Kent as ‘alternative to a fine or prosecution’

People involved in an accident who could have been fined or prosecuted are now offered an alternative.

A driving fitness program was launched today by Kent Police and South East DriveAbility (SED), a clinical service run by a consultant occupational therapist based in Aylesford.

Left to right: Gordon McIntyre of SED Driver Maintenance, Superintendent Angie Chapman, Karen McMillan who is head of the Safer Detention and Traffic Process Unit, Sue Weston who is in charge of traffic summons with Kent Police , SED business manager Sian Mitchell, Kevin Reader, David Currie, Anu Varshney, Rob Heard and Pauline Newby who is an SED occupational therapist

The initiative has taken five years to come to fruition and aims to help motorists stay safe behind the wheel.

Working with drivers referred by Kent Police, the program will support people who have been involved in a collision or reckless driving and meet the criteria, instead of being prosecuted or fined.

After a driving assessment, South East DriveAbility submits a report to Kent Police which determines if the driver is safe on the road, needs training or needs to stop indefinitely.

If the recommendation is to stop, the findings are compiled with the initial police incident report and sent to the DVLA, who then make a final clearance decision.

SED chief Dr Anu Varshney said: “It took us five years to finally roll out this program for people living in Kent.

“In addition to improving road safety, this program has the potential to support drivers who may not be aware of medical conditions that may have been a contributing factor to a traffic incident.

“With our intervention, medical aid can support the driver, helping them to stay safely on the roads.”

The initiative will help drivers stay safe on the road.  Archival photo
The initiative will help drivers stay safe on the road. Archival photo

Margaret Davies took the training in 2020 after a collision and described it as an opportunity to improve her driving skills.

She said: “I had never heard of the program before so I did a lot of research. I had to complete my first assessment and I was incredibly nervous and failed.

“I found an instructor to take some driving refresher lessons and he quickly found a number of bad habits I had picked up over my 40+ year driving history and of course could highlight important changes in the highway code.

“It really gave me the opportunity to improve my driving and my confidence to overtake my driver more. I was skeptical at first, but only because I had never heard of this program. I recommend it now to all who have the opportunity.”

Edward Trewhella, chief executive of Driving Mobility, one of the program partners, said: “As a national charity supported by the Department for Transport, we are 100% focused on keeping people safe, whether either as a driver, passenger or user of public transport.

“This new joint initiative delivers just that through a positive approach that assesses and educates rather than simply prosecutes. We believe the partnership between SED and Kent Police will build on the success of other forces already working with locals. driving mobility centers and we encourage more to join the scheme.”