New website provides advice for relatives of older drivers

12.00 | 25 October 2013 | | 4 comments

A new website has been set up to encourage relatives of elderly drivers to do their research before having potentially sensitive conversations about giving up driving.

The site,, has been created by GEM Motoring Assist and contains a suite of videos that cover topics connected with ageing, staying safe, and how to adapt to changes in mobility.

Professor Andrew Parkes, TRL chief scientist and one of the UK’s top driver behaviour experts, says that elderly drivers can feel defensive about their driving and any criticism of it.

Professor Parkes said: “I was recently in a car driven by my father for the first for 10 years. I noticed how his style of driving had changed; he was driving much faster, much more aggressively and assertively.

“I reacted by expressing my surprise and then trying to make a joke out it, which probably made him feel even more defensive about his driving.”

Professor Parkes says that 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.

He added: “With the benefit of hindsight I should not have said anything to my father immediately. It would have been much more helpful to come back to the subject when I had lined up some sensible ideas to help him, rather than simply expressing surprise and concern at his driving style.


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    This is a very useful addition to the range of advice and programmes to help us all address this very difficult issue.

    Most important for me is that the whole subject is approached with an open mind and starting with the aim of:
    “How can we help older drivers to stay driving for as long as they safely can?”

    Not using:
    “Time to give up driving” as the starting point.

    If you do the former, you look for positive, practical ways to help people to adapt to the effects of aging – which are different for each of us. If you do the latter you are likely to close your mind to all those options and simply work out how to take the keys away. Remember, we are all getting older and (hopefully) living longer – how do you want to be treated by your children?

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The rate at which our driving skills deteriorate with age varies very widely, as does the level from which it deteriorates. Equally, the need to be able to drive, not be house-bound and to have a life worth living varies greatly with personal circumstances and geography.

    Many older drivers, though less safe than they were at their best, are still safer than many young drivers, and drive far fewer miles. In a logical world, freedom to drive would be determined by a combination of risk and miles per annum. Can we therefore put a stop, once and for all, to the idea of an arbitrary age limit?

    Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield
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    Quite clearly the ageing process is one that does effect numerous aspects of an individual’s performance. Equally inexperience of youth and exuberance and over confidence does the same statistically more frequently than that of the elderly. One might generalise saying a driving licence should not be allowed before the age of twenty six as this is recognised as an age less likely to be involved in a road accident – equally the licence should be rescinded at seventy five. A more realistic solution would be to ensure that driving instruction should not simply prepare the candidate to pass the driving test, but more that it should ensure that the student is in all aspects an able driver. In general terms all drivers should be required to take a test of continued ability to drive under rigorous conditions in much the same way as an ADI is tested for continued competence to instruct.

    Alan Reginald Derek Laming Tizzard
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    This is one of those rare resources that really stands out as something that will go a long way to filling a much needed gap in road safety education. It’s non-threatening style with positive messages and clear guidance is thought provoking and practical. I wish I had had access to this more than ten years ago when I had the unpleasant task of removing my father’s car keys as he became a danger to himself and others and simply wouldn’t listen to reason. This is a GEM of a resource!

    R Smith
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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