Road safety organisation, GEM Motoring Assist, is keen to stand up for the increasing number of older people who choose to continue driving. The support is backed up by findings from a study which shows that more mature road users are no more dangerous than other drivers.
Neil Worth, GEM Motoring Assist road safety officer, comments: “Age discrimination shapes how older persons are treated and perceived, nowhere more than on the road. There is a perception too widely held that older people are slow, dithery and downright dangerous, which is just not true. The study, prepared by researchers at Swansea University, showed that although reaction times may increase as people grow older, this is compensated by older drivers taking more care on road journeys.”
Worth continued: “As we grow older, it’s perfectly normal for our driving habits and skills to change. The important thing is to recognise these changes, especially the ones that may compromise the safety, so that we can ensure we also take steps to reduce any risks. In that way, we will hopefully continue driving long into later life.”
GEM’s free ‘Still Safe to Drive’ video-based web resource (www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk), presented by Valerie Singleton OBE, offers practical advice for everyone on staying safe at the wheel. It also assists family members and friends to find kind, but effective, ways of helping those senior drivers who may not realise – or will not admit – that they pose a greater risk to others.
Neil Worth is enthusiastic about the information that can be found on the Still Safe to Drive website. “We’ve consulted doctors, ophthalmologists, psychologists and road safety experts to come up with some simple ways to help extend safe driving careers,” he explains.
“By combining regular check-ups with regular physical activity, you really can make a difference when it comes to staying as safe as possible for as long as possible. Also, by seeking the advice of experts and the opinions of family members, you can identify possible issues at an early stage and take the appropriate action to put them right.”
Worth concluded: “At GEM, we are keen to promote the value of a driver ‘MOT’. The GEM Driver Assessment is a good value, stimulating and highly effective hour-long opportunity to let an experienced instructor make sure you’re as safe behind the wheel as you can be. There’s no test, and nothing to fail – just an enjoyable and worthwhile opportunity to reduce your risk on the road.”