Tips for Elderly Drivers

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Elderly Driver

According to staff at the Medical Centre, Haddenham has one of the most mature populations in Buckinghamshire in terms of its demographic profile. This may be shifting as younger residents move into the new homes, but for the moment the seniors represent a major group. Given that fact, here are a few thoughts from June Brown for those who love their cars!

Tips for Drivers Over 65

The percentage of seniors is set to rise to 21.5% by 2025, meaning that more seniors will be on the road. This may ring alarm bells for younger drivers but statistics show that the most dangerous drivers are young adults, who tend to have greater difficulty focusing on the road and assessing the nature of risks, especially when other youngsters are in the car.

This finding is supported by Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), who notes that: "Young drivers under the age of 24 have twice as many crashes as you'd expect, given the numbers on the road, and older drivers have half as many as you'd expect, given the number on the road." Moreover, drivers aged over 75 account for just 4.3% of deaths and serious injuries on the road — largely because they tend to drive slowly and cautiously.

In a report published by IAM Driving Road Safety, the following facts regarding older driver safety were noted:

Safe driving style
Many older drivers use their experience to drive more carefully and to avoid risks. For instance, they have a smaller percentage of crashes on bends and while overtaking, than do drivers in their 50s.

Driving errors
Older drivers can be more prone to making specific errors that can lead to a crash — this is particularly true in intersections on 60/70mph roads (and less true in intersections on 20/30mph roads).

Drivers over 70 are more likely to be at fault in an accident, particularly when right-of-way decisions are involved.

Drivers over 85 are four times more likely to have caused an accident than to be the victim of one.

Reducing the Risk of Accidents

Measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of crashes include:

Informing drivers of the types of crashes they may be involved in, and encouraging them to develop skills in relevant areas. Practice makes perfect, so younger family members can help negotiate intersections and other areas of risk with their parents or grandparents.

Encouraging older drivers to go for assessments more often, to identify any causes that might increase their risk of accidents.

Encouraging older drivers to reduce their risk by using satnav technology, studying their routes carefully via Google maps, and encouraging them to take routes with less traffic.

Adapting vehicles to include features such as extra mirrors, to help them identify blind spots clearly.

While seniors aren't the most dangerous group of drivers, they can have specific risks of accidents because they can take more time to process information, and often, lane changes and intersections require fast action. Through practice, support, and an awareness of the risks they face, they can continue to enjoy independence and freedom behind the wheel. Of course, if they notice signs that it is time to stop, they should begin to rely on public transport or switch from driver to passenger in vehicles driven by friends or family members.

June Brown