Are you still safe to drive, asks road safety organisation
- More than 100,000 drivers aged 90 and above on the UK’s roads, with 500+ centenarians still holding licences
- Age alone does not need to be a barrier to safe driving
- Don’t risk a heavy fine: tell DVLA if have any ‘notifiable condition’ that could affect your ability to drive safely
GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging senior drivers and their family members to watch for any early signs of unsafe driving.
Although age itself does not need to be a barrier to safe driving, it’s important to watch out for warning signs relating to failing health or reduced ability in a driver – that could lead to posing a higher risk on journeys, says GEM.
Official figures show that the number of licence holders aged over 90 topped 100,000 for the first time in summer 2017. This rose to 113,000 in summer 2019.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “It has long been GEM’s policy that as many people as possible should 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 may not be aware of their changing actions or the growing risks they may pose – to themselves and to others – on journeys.
“There’s no upper age limit for driving. The only requirement in law for drivers aged over 70 is to declare every three years that they are fit to drive. In the absence of re-testing and mandatory eyesight checks, it’s vital that family members and friends are willing to keep an eye on their senior relatives – and take appropriate action if anything causes them concern.”
The law is also clear is on the requirement for drivers of any age to report certain specific conditions to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), as they could affect someone’ ability to stay safe at the wheel. These conditions include:
- Diabetes or taking insulin
- Syncope (fainting)
- Certain heart conditions (such as atrial fibrillation)
- The fitting of a pacemaker
- Sleep apnoea
Failure to report a condition that could affect someone’s ability to drive safely can lead to a fine of up to £1000, with possible prosecution if they are involved in a collision.
What to do if you are worried
“If you are concerned that a medical condition is affecting an elderly relative’s ability to drive safely, you can report your concerns anonymously to DVLA via an online form,” says Neil Worth.
“If your concerns are not related to a medical condition, then the first step might be as simple as having an informal chat with your relative. Ask a few questions, find out if they still feel safe and where they might be experiencing particular difficulty. Encourage them to book a driver assessment (such as the scheme offered by GEM), as a bit of expert help is a great way for senior drivers to improve their safety.
“If your concerns are more serious, then for the sake of everyone’s safety, you must give details to the police. Once again, you can do this anonymously.”
GEM’s recently-published resource, Still Safe to Drive, gives a range of practical advice to help senior drivers stay as safe as possible for as long as possible. Take a look at www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk
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