Recognising the danger signs in elderly drivers | Motoring Issues - Car News Jan 2018

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16:33 Monday 19 Feb 2018

Family members are being encouraged to keep an eye out for telltale signs that their elderly relatives are becoming unsafe behind the wheel.

The call comes from road safety campaigners GEM Motoring Assist in the wake of a tragic court case last week where a 95-year-old driver was banned from driving for life and given a suspended prison sentence.

The accident happened last February when the driver, visiting her husband’s grave, put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake, hitting and killing a worker at the cemetery.

With over 100,000 nonagenarian drivers in the UK, and with 500 licences currently held by drivers aged 100-plus, the organisation is asking family members to be alert to the safety of their elderly relative’s driving, no matter how awkward the ensuing conversation may be.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “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”.

Key signs to look out for include close calls or moments where a crash almost happens, dents and scrapes on the car as a result of hitting fences, posts or kerbs, and an increase in penalty notices for speeding or red traffic light offences. GEM also advises family members and friends to look out for signs of deterioration in driving capability such as difficulty seeing traffic lights and road signs, reduced awareness of other drivers, not reacting to an approaching emergency siren, slow reaction when required to brake or alter direction suddenly, confusing the accelerator and brake pedals, erratic decision-making, getting flustered or angry over minor matters, difficulty looking over shoulders to check before pulling out, missing familiar exits or turnings, drifting in and out of lanes on motorways and dual carriageways, failing to indicate correctly - or at all – or failing to cancel an indicator.

“If you decide that there is good reason to be concerned about a senior relative, then try to have an informal, friendly chat. If your relative is unwilling to have that conversation, you could attempt to inform their GP, or all else fails, you could report them to the DVLA. You can do this anonymously if you wish.

Safety has to be everyone’s priority, even if you risk upsetting some close to you. The potential consequences of not acting are ultimately much, much worse,” says Neil Worth.


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