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How to tell the elderly their driving days are over

Telling an elderly relative to give up driving can be a bit of a minefield, particularly as it involves the prospect of them giving up their independence. Many simply won’t be ready for the prospect of quitting the road, even if they’re clearly a danger to themselves and others. 

If you’re in such a situation, you’re not alone. Website Still Safe to Drive addresses the issue by giving tips on how to raise the subject without provoking a negative reaction, and also to educate the elderly on why they might not be as safe as they think they are. 

The website details the physical process of getting old and the associated ailments that might affect one’s driving, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, slower reactions, reduced concentration and eyesight. It does occasionally make for depressing reading, but it prodives a valuable insight that might make an elderly driver think twice.

“Crash risk has been shown to increase after the age of 75,” Hampshire police sergeant Rob Heard commented. “Common mistakes of older drivers include failing to give way, failing to stay in the lane and misjudging the time or distance needed to turn in front of other traffic.”

“Older drivers are more likely to get into crashes at junctions where they will typically be in the vehicle that’s struck by another,” he added.

Chief scientist at TRL Professor Andrew Parkes says there are two main ways to tell whether you may be too old to drive safely. One is how you feel about driving (whether it stresses or irritates you, for instance) and how you think your passengers feel. “Taken together, this will give early warnings signs,” the professor explained.

Current law stipulates that once an elderly driver hits 70 years old, they must reapply for a driving licence from the DVLA. At this point the driver must declare any medical conditions meet the required level of eyesight, which involves being able to read a number plate from 20-metres.

While it may be easy to label the elderly as the scourge of roads, statistics in fact reveal they are far, far safer than young drivers, even though they represent 9 per cent of UK drivers as a whole.

Even so, if you think an elderly driver is unsafe, you may be doing them a favour by at least bringing the subject to light or by simply directing them to the website.

Source: GEM Motoring Assist

Image: Flickr

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