FOR SAFETY’S SAKE

Keep Mum and Dad safe when they’re on the road.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Contents - BY SASHA GON­ZA­LES SH

Dad has been driv­ing all his life. And even though his re­flexes are slower now that he’s older, and his eye­sight and hear­ing are not as good, you just can’t con­vince him – or Mum – to give up his car keys.

Sure, they ad­mit they’re not as sharp and fit as they used to be, but your par­ents tell you their years of driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence should count for some­thing. How­ever, the truth is that se­niors are more prone to road­related ac­ci­dents.

A Sin­ga­pore Po­lice Force (SPF) spokesper­son says that pedes­tri­ans 60 years old and above made up about a fifth of the to­tal num­ber of those who died or were in­jured in traf­fic ac­ci­dents over the last three years. Here’s what you can do to cut your par­ents’ risk of ac­ci­dents.

AS DRIV­ERS, YOUR PAR­ENTS SHOULD…

• AS­SESS THEIR PHYS­I­CAL FIT­NESS. While all those hold­ing car (Class 3, 3A) and mo­tor­cy­cle (Class 2, 2A, 2B) li­cences must get a full med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by a Sin­ga­pore-reg­is­tered doc­tor ev­ery three years from the age of 65 to cer­tify that they are phys­i­cally and med­i­cally fit to drive, it’s also good prac­tice for your folks to un­dergo per­sonal health checks reg­u­larly, even be­fore turn­ing 65.

They should get their eye­sight and hear­ing tested, and tell their doc­tor if they suf­fer from mem­ory lapses. Cer­tain med­i­ca­tions may also in­ter­fere with their abil­ity to drive, so they must speak to their doc­tor if they’re tak­ing a com­bi­na­tion of drugs or new med­i­ca­tion.

“Older driv­ers are not nec­es­sar­ily worse driv­ers,” says Ben­jamin Boo, co-di­rec­tor of Le Driv­ing In­struc­tors. “A per­son’s driv­ing skills get bet­ter with age and ex­pe­ri­ence. In fact, younger, in­ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers are more prone to road ac­ci­dents be­cause of their in­creased ten­dency to speed and make rash de­ci­sions.

“How­ever, se­nior driv­ers should still eval­u­ate if they are in the right phys­i­cal and men­tal con­di­tion to drive. This would ben­e­fit not just them, but other road users as well.”

RE­FRESH THEIR TRAF­FIC KNOWL­EDGE. En­cour­age your par­ents to stay up to date on new road traf­fic rules and sig­nage. You can help them by reg­u­larly check­ing the Land Trans­port Au­thor­ity’s One Mo­tor­ing web­site: www.onemo­tor­ing.com.sg/pub­lish/onemo­tor­ing/en/on_the_roads/ed­u­ca­tion­al_­ma­te­ri­als.html.

If your folks would like to sharpen their driv­ing skills, they can take a re­fresher course through a pri­vate driv­ing in­struc­tor or at any driv­ing school, says Ben­jamin.

STICK TO A SAFER PART OF THE ROAD. To max­imise their safety and avoid un­nec­es­sary pres­sure, they should keep to the left lane, which is slower-paced.

RE­MAIN CALM BE­HIND THE WHEEL. Re­mind your par­ents not to be pres­sured by driv­ers who have their high beam lights on, or who may be tail­gat­ing them or honk­ing at them. All it takes is a mo­ment of panic for an el­derly driver to miss a traf­fic light or re­act in­cor­rectly to a road hazard, re­sult­ing in an ac­ci­dent.

DIS­PLAY A P PLATE. Michael Yeo, a driv­ing in­struc­tor from Sg­driv­in­g­lessons.com, sug­gests get­ting your par­ents to use a pro­ba­tion­ary li­cence plate (P plate) while driv­ing, so that other mo­torists will be more mind­ful of them.

RE­VIEW THE CAR THEY’RE US­ING. Is their cur­rent ve­hi­cle right for them? A car with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, power steer­ing and

power brakes might be a bet­ter op­tion. They should also take the car for reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance checks, to en­sure that it’s kept in good work­ing con­di­tion.

AS PEDES­TRI­ANS, RE­MIND YOUR PAR­ENTS TO…

• AVOID JAY­WALK­ING. Dash­ing across the road is dan­ger­ous – par­tic­u­larly at bends, and where there are no ze­bra cross­ings or traf­fic lights. They may not no­tice ve­hi­cles turn­ing a cor­ner or may not re­act fast enough. Get them to use pedes­trian cross­ings and over­head bridges – even if it takes them a longer time.

BE EX­TRA VIG­I­LANT. Take pre­cau­tions even at pedes­trian cross­ings. If their eye­sight and hear­ing are not very good, re­mind them to prac­tise the “kerb drill” – look right, look left, then right again to make sure there are no on­com­ing ve­hi­cles, and to cross only if they are cer­tain that it’s safe. Rais­ing their hand when cross­ing the road is a good way to alert mo­torists to their pres­ence.

WEAR RE­FLEC­TIVE CLOTH­ING AT NIGHT. If your par­ents are walk­ing at night, get them to carry re­flec­tive ma­te­ri­als or wear light­coloured cloth­ing so that they will be more vis­i­ble to mo­torists, sug­gests the SPF spokesper­son.

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