Elderly drivers – how safe is safe?

How a change in the law for elderly drivers could be a welcomed move…

It’s true – we’re all living to be older, breeding later, doing things longer. It’s great in many respects. My Mother’s generation was expected to be married with kids by the time I had only just met ‘the one’ and was agonising about giving up my bachelorette pad!

By time I got around to having children I was the wrong side of my 30s with a flourishing career and in a happy and stable relationship. I’ve never felt that anything has held me back, least not my age. It is wonderful living in these hedonistic times.

Here’s the catch…

But, there is a downside too, and it’s an important one to note. As we prolong and stretch our lifestyles, we need to adjust the goalposts.

If the current retirement age is now 65 years old for a woman, then the government has a duty of care to look after the extended working generation. Jobs need to be made available, transport accessible, salaries dependable.

But there’s something I find even more troubling… and it’s elderly drivers.

Over the hill?

This is a topic that has long distrubed me, since I lost a good friend in a car accident – although I should point out, no elderly drivers were involved. Nonetheless, it’s still a subject dear to my heart, more so now that I’m a Mother and want to make this world a safer place.

This important issue has been brought to the public eye by fellow blogger Life as a Widower. At just 33 years old he lost his wife, and his son lost his Mother, when an 85-year-old pension mowed her down by accident. According to blogger Ben, the OAP had mistaken the accelerator for the brake.

His story is heart-breaking and saddening read, made all the harder to digest knowing that it could have been prevented, should have been prevented.

Let the stats speak for themselves. According to DfT, in 2011 there were 10,974 accidents involving drivers over the age of 70. That compares with 11,946 accidents involving 17-to-19-year-old drivers and 24,007 accidents involving 20-to-24-year-old drivers (source: BBC)

Lets make it right

Ben has since campaigned for people over 70 to undergo compulsory retesting to keep their driving licence. And his online campaign will go to the House of Commons for consideration if it gains just another 53,000 names – adding to the half a million people who have already signed it.

If you agree with this campaign and want a better, safer world for your family, then you too must sign it here >>>

Currently when drivers turn 70 they fill in a self-assessment form every three years to renew it. According to Ben’s petition, no-one assesses their skills or reactions, nor their eyesight or hearing. How can this be right, or safe for the rest of society?

It’s on my street and probably yours

On my street I have an elderly neighbour, who ticks this worrying box. At 75 Sharon is with it mentally, less so physically. She drives a car covered in dents because she can’t rotate her head when parking, and smacks it constantly. I’ve shared my concerns with her, but she complains that the government don’t provide enough ‘taxi vouchers’ and local taxis are too expensive.

Clearly, much is to be done on both sides to make this situation work for everyone, if we are to ask OAPs to retake their licences.

My friend who works for an airline told me that mandatory retirement for pilots is 65-years old.

One of the many reasons being that their reaction times and ability to perform the job to a high standard is compromised as they get older. If this is true of pilots, then why not drivers too?

It’s time we all took stock of this situation and tried to make things right. You can make a start by signing this petition and sharing it with the world.

Again, I go back to the goalposts being readjusted. It’s time.

I originally wrote this for The Huffington Post, it has been repurposed for my blog. If you enjoyed reading this, why not check out the top destinations for family travel in 2017, here >>>