Tag Archive | "older drivers"

Break It To Them Gently

The sad fact is that we all get old. There are many plus points to getting older in terms of knowledge and wisdom but the fact is that old age brings with it a certain frailty to a greater or lesser degree. As a matter of course older people deal with these things stoically and continue to enjoy life and this, of course, includes driving.

Nevertheless, for many older people there comes a time when it is no longer appropriate to be in charge of a tonne of hot rushing metal. The trouble is, some elderly drivers can feel quite defensive about their driving and any criticism of it. Either the change is so gradual they don’t notice or they know very well but see the alternative as a lost freedom.

To counter this some drivers change their style to demonstrate to the world that they have still got what it takes. It has been shown that they tend to drive much faster, more aggressively and assertively than they had done before. When challenged, these people become even more defensive and the whole thing spirals out of control.

Talking to an elderly relative about driving – especially if the goal is to get that person to hang up the car keys – needs to be part of a properly planned approach that’s sensitive and constructive. It is best not to say anything off the cuff but rather line up some sensible ideas and suggestions to help my them, rather than simply expressing panic and concern at his driving style. By showing care and compassion, we can help an elderly person make a smoother transition to a less mobile lifestyle.

Put yourself in their shoes. The best way to do this is by experiencing life without the car yourself. This will help you appreciate both the drawbacks and the advantages. Raising the matter of safety and retiring from driving a year or more in advance might mean you’re spared the need to spring it on them at the last minute. You can work together over a period of time to make a few small adjustments in driving style, vehicle and journey type. Explore the practical options your relative will have to remain as mobile as possible. If you’re going to talk about using the bus, then research the timetable, for example. Don’t focus solely on the necessary journeys. Shopping and the like is something we all do regularly but remember folk also like to go on outings or, indeed, just for a drive. What are the alternatives for them?

The matter of ageing and lose of mobility comes to us all. Perhaps by helping an elderly relative come to terms with it will help you when it’s your turn. And it will be your turn.

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New Drivers Need To Be Better Trained

One day soon parents and relatives all around Britain may suddenly wake up to howls of anguish coming from their older children – at least, the ones that are learning to drive. This is because – as revealed by a very recent survey – experienced motorists are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of learning requirements for new drivers – and not just the youngsters; learners of any age.

A very large majority of the UK’s motorists believe that there should be a minimum driver training period prior to any practical driving test being taken. Most seem to think that a six month period is appropriate. As things stand at the moment there is no minimum period. A precocious seventeen year old could learn and pass in a week which may be commendable but does nothing to add to the real life experience of driving on our busy roads.

Motorway driving and manners are of primary concern given the generally higher speeds and volume of traffic. Respondents to the survey reckon that motorway training should be part of the learning process and indeed part of the driving test. As far as new drivers are concerned it gets worse.

A majority believe the mandatory probation period should be followed by a further driving assessment. Vehicles, the respondents believe, should be fitted with speed limiter devices to slow the more gung-ho element of the newbies and instil a sense of security in the more nervous newcomer to the world of wheels. This is a bit of a contentious area given that most motorway drivers expect a higher level of speed to be maintained. There would need to be a happy medium.

Experienced drivers believe that the government should do more by adding more stringent requirements and regulation to ensure newcomers benefit from the process. Other road users would feel reassured by this, they say. Most seem happy with the age 17 rule, but they want the punishments to be more severe. For example, any miscreant with more than six points should be busted down to learner status again and forced to repeat the cycle.

Additionally it is felt that there should be passenger restrictions on the carrying of under twenty-fives by under twenty-fives, presumably to neuter youthful exuberance and that there should be an even lower limit for drink driving. Presumably the former wouldn’t apply to older newbies but it isn’t made clear.

All of this, of course, is easy to say for drivers with many years of experience behind them but it needs to be balanced with a sense of fair play. We were all learners once. Certainly the roads are busier today than they have ever been but as most young people will grow up to be sensible drivers they should at least be given a fair crack of the whip and we don’t mean that in the literal sense.

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With Age Comes Experience

Here’s a New Year  resolution for you. The next time you are out driving and come up behind an old car – usually a Rover 25 – being driven by what appears to be Gollum’s dad wearing a flat cap, spare a thought and have a bit of charity because, by the grace of your deity, one day this will be you. Only after you’ve done this is it acceptable for you to overtake whilst muttering “shouldn’t be allowed on the road” under your breath.

Only now, you can’t even do that because older drivers, it is established, are just as safe as anybody else – and that’s official. They might well be slower but that’s just because they have a better attitude to road safety and deal with hazards in a more experienced way. So there.

Historically, it has often been accepted that as a person ages so their reactions become sluggish and the opportunity for disaster is increased. To an extent this is correct but a recent survey reports that drivers over the age of seventy five reacted just as quickly as any other age group in a straightforward emergency situation – the sudden appearance of a car out of a side road, for example. The effects of old age – less physical mobility, sight problems and so on don’t make that much difference. Apparently, drivers over 70 make up some 9% of motorists but only 6% of the casualty statistics.

The reasons are probably obvious. Older people do not drive as fast and they leave larger gaps behind leading cars. These old codgers don’t have it all their own way though as they are likely to make less use of the rear view mirror and have a habit of stopping short at junctions.

It is officially recommended that ageing motorists get the once-over from their GP to check on things like arthritis or similar debilitating problems as needed for their general fitness to drive. We are all advised to take regular breaks and refreshments on long journeys but, it is suggested, the aged ones should maybe take more. With driving, good observation is vital. Older drivers can misinterpret or misjudge situations which may well be why they tend to drive more sedately.

So give these old timers a break. Old age comes to us all and, at some point, there will come a time when we’ll know in our heart of hearts that it is time to hand over the keys. But look on the bright side – when you are in your dotage and a passenger in your family’s car you can look out the window at the ageing slowcoach in front and hurl abuse as you flash by. It’s your entitlement.

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