If you are concerned about an older driver or are yourself a more senior road user, these tips will help with staying safe on the road. They will also help you to decide when the time is right to stop driving.
The numbers of older drivers on the UK’s roads is steadily increasing. By 2030 it is predicted that over 90% of male over-70s will be active drivers.
Age is only a number
There is no absolute age at which it becomes unsafe to drive. We all age differently and it is important to respect an individual’s right to drive.
Older drivers tend to be frailer and therefore suffer more serious injuries if they are involved in an accident. This may account for the higher casualty figures in the older age group rather than ‘bad driving’.
Older drivers get tired sooner and to a greater degree. It may be best to limit journeys to shorter trips and avoid long drives.
Fit to drive
It is an individual’s own responsibility to keep himself/herself fit to drive. If you develop any condition that may affect your driving you must inform the DVLA. The eyesight requirement is particularly important. Dementia also raises its own particular issues. You also need to inform your insurance company of any relevant medical conditions.
Renewing you licence
Once you pass the age of 70 you must reapply for a driver’s licence every three years. No medical or test is required but you do have to declare yourself ‘fit to drive’.
Rather than give up driving altogether, a lot of older drivers restrict where and how they drive. Some choose to avoid driving at night or on busy or fast roads. It may also be a good idea to avoid bad weather and keep journeys short. Confidence can be an issue for older drivers and this may lead to them dreading certain junctions or roundabouts. In this case, carefully planning a journey can be a very good idea.
Drive the right car
Older drivers may prefer cars with bigger windows and large mirrors which help with all-round vision. Higher seats and bigger doors can help older drivers (and passengers) get in an out.
Keep your eye in
If you are fit to drive and have a licence then keep driving. Over the years driving habits and road layouts do change slightly and it can be hard to adjust after a long time without driving. It is a good idea to practice the roads close to your home.
Plan for your future
Some day the time will come when you do decide to give up driving. It is important to consider how your circumstances will change as you get older. For example, many older people decide to move to the country where driving is more important than in urban areas.
Get a second opinion
If you are not sure if you should be driving or are worried about a relative or friend then get a second opinion. Ask their neighbours and friends. Do passengers feel safe in the car? Some areas run schemes that utilize local driving instructors to assess more senior drivers. Mobility centres are also a help here.
Keep Your Car in Good Condition
Make sure your car has a regular service and MOT. The last thing an older driver needs is to breakdown miles from anywhere. Lots of insurance policies offer breakdown cover and a return to home service so it is wise to shop around for a comprehensive policy suited to older drivers. Age UK offer car insurance that is particularly suited to over 50’s drivers here http://www.ageuk.org.uk/products/insurance/car-insurance/.