Young drivers take a lot of stick for their driving inexperience. That’s probably a little unfair as most motorists get better through experience and that is only gained by putting the miles in. There is another group of drivers who collectively come in for some criticism as well and that is also mostly unjust too: Older drivers.
The Age Debate
Unquestionably, reaction times change as we age; that’s a given. That’s not to say that older drivers are any less alert but it is possible that they may not react to a given circumstance in as lively a way as a younger motorist. This is why older drivers tend to slow down which, in a sense, actually makes them safer drivers and accident statistics bear this out.
Yet it is true that the cruising codgers of the road should take their ability to drive seriously and they can do this by honestly reflecting on their driving; in short, knowing when to quit. Reaching a certain age does not automatically mean a complete loss of ability to drive, make judgements and read road signs. These days many older people are in pretty decent shape and this is borne out by the fact that today two thirds of people aged seventy or over still hold a driving licence.
When To Quit
Nevertheless DVSA statistics show that over 22,000 elderly drivers had their licences revoked on medical grounds in 2018. This is why our motoring seniors should think about their own driving and try to understand where they may be experiencing difficulty, and to take advice when needed.
There was recently a television programme that looked at very elderly drivers whose fingers could not be prised from the steering wheel. They were road-tested by experts, not to try and write them off but to ensure that they were physically and mentally comfortable and up to the task. That’s why there has been calls of late demanding that old drivers should undergo mandatory re-tests – or be purged. A better way, surely, is to encourage senior drivers to help themselves, possibly with the cooperation of family. Ultimately, the TV show was quite positive. Some drivers were found to be perfectly able, others fell by the wayside and were advised to quit. The process of ageing is different for every single person.
There are certain things older drivers can do to help themselves stay mobile. Get fit and stay fit by taking daily exercise; that’s something we should all do! Get eyes tested regularly. An eye test is free for pensioners. Pick a car that suits; owning a Lamborghini is a dream for keen drivers of any age but not if means a dangerous excursion into the first roadside hedge.
When an incident does occur, give it some thought. It is not always the other bloke; everyone makes mistakes. If any older motorist has any nagging doubts then he or she could first ask for an assessment from a family member who can be trusted to be honest. The hapless driver should heed the suggestion to quit as being well-meant and not necessarily cut that person out of the will. Failing that a run-out with a professional instructor might be an idea.
There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not continue driving into old age. In the end it’s just a common sense decision. For everything else there’s still UBER. For now though drivers of all ages should have a browse through our selection of fine used cars
because it’s good to know that the vehicle you are driving has been thoroughly inspected by the AA
. Further, our fourteen day ‘test drive’
allows plenty of time to find out if the car is right for you. Ask for details.