Road Safety News
 

IAM calls for Government action on older drivers

Thursday 27th March 2014

The IAM is calling on the Government to introduce a national strategy which would include driving health checks and better information for elderly drivers and their families. 

The call follows a poll of almost 1,300 people conducted for the IAM in which 42% of respondents said they are worried about an elderly relative driving, but are unlikely to do anything about it.

The poll also suggests that when people do talk to elderly relatives about their driving it does not always go down well - nearly half of respondents (47%) who said they had done so had been met with a negative reaction.

The IAM says there are now more than four million drivers aged over 70 years, and that the number will increase to 5.8 million by 2032.

To address this, the IAM is calling for a “Government action plan” for older drivers. The measures it is calling for include widespread availability of voluntary on road driving assessments, and vehicle manufacturers to give more consideration to the needs of older drivers when designing vehicles.

It is also calling for “better information and online assessment tools” for older drivers and for roads to be designed in such a way that it makes it “easier for older drivers to keep driving”.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Talking to an elderly relative about their driving is a difficult conversation to have.

“Driving is associated with independence, so giving up the car keys can be a very stressful process. This is especially true for drivers with dementia as they often underestimate the impact of the condition on their driving skills.

“Voluntary online and on road driving assessments will provide an unbiased view and help everyone make the right decision at the right time. 

“We are finding while there are some elderly drivers who should not be on the road, most get it right and as many as 15% give up too early.

“But with ever increasing numbers of elderly drivers, this is a growing mobility and road safety issue that won’t go away.  The Government needs to act now.”

Click here to read the full IAM news release.

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Thanks Nick: I imagine the IAM will be putting these suggestions forward to the DfT forthwith.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+1

WE INVITED IAM TO RESPOND TO THE COMMENT FROM HUGH JONES EARLIER IN THIS DISCUSSION THREAD ABOUT MAKING ROADS SAFER FOR OLDER DRIVERS. HERE IS THEIR RESPONSE:

As a group, older drivers are safe but they do show up as a slightly higher crash risk on high speed roundabouts and slip roads due to issues with neck and joint flexibility, so designs that minimise the effort required to look over the shoulder will help them.

There is some evidence that older drivers prefer traffic light controlled junctions rather than very large roundabouts where the speed of traffic can be make it hard to judge gaps.

Older drivers are also frail and often die in crashes that a younger person would walk away from, so roadside protection designs will help them survive e.g. crash cushions and breakable signpost and lighting columns – this would help all road users as well.

Given the big increase in older population, consideration should also be given to increasing letter and number sizes on signs to make them easier to read.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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+2

We'll have moves to bring back the Greeves Invacar next. Maybe if manufacturers considered the disadvantages of building faster, quieter, more comfortable cars greater isolated from the realities of driving, road safety might improve.

I will be 67 this year, and there are some elderly drivers whose driving I might question. But there are also more drivers whose behaviour I might question in the 18-26yr old bracket, and the 26-35yr, but no - let's hit the oldies. I knew a man who suffered dementia, he drove hundreds of miles one day and ended up not knowing where he was, or how to get home. But he never had an accident.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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+2

The IAM's raison d'etre these days seems to be to poll its members about something, publish the (usually predictable) results and then "call for action by the government" without really thinking about it.

For example, what do they mean by asking for 'roads to be designed in such a way that it makes it “easier for older drivers to keep driving”'?

As for the cars themselves, to be fair to the manufacturers some already produce vehicles which are suited to the elderly and/or infirmed in terms of access and egress, ease of driving etc. Some, if not all, the charities which cater for the elderly have information on this.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+7