FOR SAFETY’S SAKE
Keep Mum and Dad safe when they’re on the road.
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.