Older driv­ers de­ter­mined to be in­de­pen­dent

The Witness - Wheels - - INDUSTRY -

THE ma­jor­ity of older driv­ers want to con­tinue driv­ing as long as they are able to safely, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey com­mis­sioned by the In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Mo­torists ( IAM), cit­ing in­de­pen­dence and con­ve­nience as the main rea­sons.

The re­port, called “Keep­ing Older Driv­ers Safe and Mo­bile”, sur­veyed more than 2 600 driv­ers and ex- driv­ers be­tween the ages of 55 and 101, and was writ­ten by Dr Carol Haw­ley from the Univer­sity of War­wick Med­i­cal School.

Al­though the re­port found 84% of driver re­spon­dents rated their driv­ing abil­ity as good to ex­cel­lent, and 86% rated their con­fi­dence as a driver as good to ex­cel­lent, there were some fac­tors that would per­suade them to give up their car keys.

The sur­vey stated: “Most cur­rent driv­ers would con­sider giv­ing up driv­ing if they had a health con­di­tion or a health pro­fes­sional ad­vised them to stop driv­ing.

“Gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers, doc­tors and op­ti­cians/ op­tometrists are the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple to give ad­vice on giv­ing up driv­ing.”

Given the rea­sons why older peo­ple value driv­ing, it is no sur­prise that older peo­ple are re­luc­tant to give up their ve­hi­cles. Some 82% said that driv­ing was “very or ex­tremely im­por­tant” to them, and women were sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to rate driv­ing as “ex­tremely im­por­tant” than men. De­spite their de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep driv­ing, the ma­jor­ity were in favour of mea­sures to in­crease their safety on the roads, in­clud­ing retest­ing and check­ing of var­i­ous aspects of driver health and com­pe­tence to re­main be­hind the wheel.

Al­most 60% said driv­ers should re­take the driv­ing test ev­ery five years af­ter the age of 70, and 85% said driv­ers should pass an eye­sight test ev­ery five years once they have reached 70, and more than half said that driv­ers aged around 70 should be re­quired to have a med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion.

Sarah Sil­lars, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the IAM, said: “A driv­ing li­cence is a pass­port to free­dom for all ages but par­tic­u­larly so for older driv­ers.

“As grand­par­ents, it’s about help­ing their fam­ily ac­cess jobs, education and child­care, as well as keep­ing them­selves in­de­pen­dent and mo­bile. The psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of giv­ing up driv­ing shouldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated.

“Re­ac­tion times and phys­i­cal mo­bil­ity are af­fected by age and all driv­ers need to make an in- formed de­ci­sion about when to give up. We need to make it as easy as pos­si­ble for ma­ture driv­ers to make that choice armed with the full facts and all the sup­port they need.

“While some might need to ac­cept the de­ci­sion they can­not keep driv­ing safely on the road, we be­lieve some are pushed into giv­ing up be­fore they need to. A pro­fes­sional opin­ion counts for a lot, and there are many or­gan­i­sa­tions that of­fer ad­vi­sory vol­un­tary as­sess­ments that will give an older driver the con­fi­dence they need to en­joy many more years of mo­tor­ing.”


Harry Kartz be­came one of Bri­tain’s best- known driv­ers af­ter he fea­tured in a TV pro­gramme called 100 Year Old Driv­ers.

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