Keep our older drivers safe, says AA

Older drivers need to be helped to stay safe on the roads via a combination of training and new technology, according to the AA Charitable Trust.

Addressing the subject at the Transport Matters Event at Newcastle University late last month, AA director Edmund King said that more needs to be done for vulnerable elderly road users.

Research from the AA has shown that older drivers could benefit from being encouraged to embrace new technology, like autonomous emergency braking, which could help keep them safe for longer.

New technology could benefit older drivers

It also pointed out the benefits of technology specifically tailored to older motorists, for example so-called ‘granny-navs’, sat-nav systems which are more suitable for the older generation.

Professor King said: “The importance of keeping older drivers safe and mobile is vital for all road users, and society in general.

“Many people will continue to contribute to the economy by working past retirement in years to come and having a car can be essential for getting to and from work.

“Technology could play a vital role in helping keep drivers on the road safely for longer but the older drivers get, the more sceptical they tend to be about it.”

AA research has also shown that older drivers are extremely reliant on their cars to carry out essential day-to-day activities, with 89 per cent of drivers over 65 relying on it for shopping and socialising.

One in six over-65s still rely on their cars to get to and from work, while a quarter have said that they worry about how they would manage if they had to give up their cars for good.

Over-65s still reliant on their cars

Already, car manufacturers have started investing in ideas and technologies to help out older motorists, including a new seat developed by Ford which can detect oncoming heart attacks.

Back in February, transport minister Claire Perry said that self-driving cars in the future could benefit vulnerable road users, including those with disabilities, young children and the elderly.

However, research has shown that older drivers are the most wary of autonomous vehicles, with a significant 61 per cent saying they wouldn’t trust that driverless cars were safe.

Yet despite this, 13 per cent of older drivers did admit that a driverless car could increase their mobility if they were forced to forfeit their driving licences.

Number of older motorists on the rise

Government statistics show that by 2030, the number of drivers aged 80 and over will have increased to 2.9 million, compared with only 1.3 million in 2012 as better healthcare increases lifespans.

Professor King added: “Generally, older drivers are very responsible about their safety on the roads and many may be stopping driving prematurely because they are worried they pose a risk.

“But just a few hours with a professional can top up skills and provide the confidence they need to carry on driving with peace of mind.”

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