Family members urged to look out for ‘warning signs’ in elderly drivers

13.29 | 10 January 2018 | | 3 comments

GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging family members to ‘be wise’ to the early signs of unsafe driving in their senior relatives.

The road safety and breakdown organisation says there are more than 100,000 drivers aged over 90 years in the UK – and more than 500 centenarians.

GEM highlights three key signs that suggest a ‘high risk of danger with a requirement for immediate action’.

  • ‘Close calls’ or ‘oops factor’ moments where a crash almost happens
  • Dents and scrapes on the car as a result of hitting fences, posts or kerbs
  • Penalty tickets for offences such as speeding and traffic light violations

GEM is also advising family members and friends to look out for other signs that could indicate an increase in the risks posed by a senior driver, including: difficulty seeing traffic lights and road signs; reduced awareness of drivers coming from the side or the rear; not reacting to an approaching emergency siren; and slow reactions when required to brake or alter direction suddenly.

GEM’s cites the case of 95-year-old Gertrude Lister, who in February 2017 put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake following a visit to her husband’s grave, tragically killing a cemetery worker.

Last week a judge sentenced Mrs Lister to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, and banned her from driving for the rest of her life.

Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer, said: “We want as many people as possible to enjoy the freedom of the open road for as long as possible, but only while they are safe.

“Warning signs relating to failing health or reduced ability can develop slowly and gradually in older drivers. This often means they won’t be aware of their changing actions or the growing risks they may pose – to themselves and to others – on journeys.

“The only requirement in law for any driver aged over 70 years is to declare every three years that they are fit to drive. In the absence of re-testing and mandatory eyesight checks, it’s vital that family members and friends are willing to keep an eye on their senior relatives – and take appropriate action if anything causes them concern.”


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    Andrew thank you for your comments – young drivers are a priority for us and we are fully committed to the introduction of Graduated Driving Licences as a way to reduce the risks they face. We worked with PACTS a few years ago to produce a report on this for parliamentarians:

    We will continue to promote the need to introduce a full GDL system in Great Britain and are in the process of responding to the Northern Ireland consultation about doing just that.

    You may also be interested to know that our Road Safety Charity has approved substantial grant funding for a young driver project that is currently in development so watch this space!

    Neil Worth, GEM Motoring Assist
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Would that GEM were so concerned about young drivers! Do we know whether they are lobbying as strongly for Graduated Driver Licensing? Surely that should be the priority …

    Andrew Fraser, Stirling
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I see what they’re getting at, however the ‘three key signs’ mentioned could apply to drivers of any age – it would be illogical therefore to only be concerned if evident only in the elderly. For some – of any age- ‘oops factor’ moments, dents and traffic violations are the norm.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

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