Weymouth grandmother passes advanced driving test

10:00am Wednesday 8th June 2011

By Arron Hendy

AN 87-YEAR-OLD grandmother from Weymouth has become one of the oldest motorists in England to pass the Advanced Driving Test.

Jean Rawson, of Belle Vue Road, has never passed a driving test as her provisional licence was automatically upgraded to a full licence after the Second World War.

But she decided to take on the advanced test to prove she is an adequate driver despite her mature years and is hoping her new certificate will help her get cheaper car insurance.

“I’ve always enjoyed driving enormously as I like the freedom of it,” Mrs Rawson said.

The retired dog breeder came from good stock for driving as her father was Herbert ‘Herbie’ Kensington Moir, one of the famed Bentley Boys who raced in the early 1920s.

She saw an advert for the advanced driving programme in the Echo and decided she wanted to complete the test to prove she should still be driving her white Volkswagen Polo 1.9 diesel.

She said: “Someone might say ‘you are too old to drive’ and not want me to renew my licence so I thought if I’m an advanced driver I can say: ‘No I’m still good enough to drive’ and I’ll have an argument.”

Mrs Rawson began driving in 1947 after moving to Tarrant Monkton near Blandford and her father brought her a car.

She said: “He brought me a Ford 8 van and took me out for about 20 minutes and said: ‘you’ll be alright’ and left me with it.

“He left me with this van which I subsequently turned over near Blandford Camp and it had no seat belts.”

Mrs Rawson, who was a Second World War Wren, had four daughters and one son with her husband John, who passed away in 1996. She still drives around Weymouth and Portland and often to Sussex to see her sister. Sometimes she also drives to Yorkshire and Scotland with friends.

Mrs Rawson is careful not to break the speed limit after being caught doing 34 miles an hour on Buxton Road in Weymouth.

She attended a rehabilitation course to avoid having any points added to her licence and shocked fellow drivers when she announced she had never taken a test.

Mrs Rawson is often tailgated by drivers who get too close behind her but once she gets to national speed limit roads they are left in her wake.

She said: “I get tailgated because of my white hair and they think: ‘Silly old bat, she doesn’t know how to drive.’ I go at 30 and they think they will pass me but when I get to national speed limit suddenly I’m 350 yards ahead.”

• A SPOKESMAN for the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) said Mrs Rawson is the oldest woman on their records to have passed the advanced test in Dorset.

The course and test is aimed at improving driving standards and helping to make motorists safer.

The advanced programme entitled A Skill For Life provides an initial assessment with an IAM voluntary observer from your local IAM Group and as many on-road drives with an IAM observer as required to achieve ‘test ready’ status.

This is typically six to eight drives and includes advice on safe driving and breaking distances and speeds and advice on advanced hazard perception.

It also includes journey planning and how to save fuel by avoiding quick acceleration and breaking.

During the 90 minute test drivers need to show they are able to cope with a variety of conditions including urban, motorway and rural driving – statistically the worst roads for people being killed and seriously injured.

The IAM spokesman said: “Mrs Rawson is to be congratulated on taking and passing her advanced driving test.”

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