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Senior safety: don’t ignore the warning signs

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging older drivers to reflect on their driving and be watchful for signs that they could be at higher risk. GEM says there’s a wealth of useful information and expert safety advice that can help ensure senior drivers stay safe for as long as possible.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: “Reaching a certain age does not automatically mean a complete loss of your ability to drive, judge distances and read road signs.

“Today two thirds of people aged 70 and over still hold a driving licence, compared with less than 40 per cent in the mid 1990s. The process of ageing is different for every single person. That’s why we are keen to encourage senior drivers to reflect on their own driving, to understand where they may be experiencing difficulty, and to know where to get practical advice.

“Traditional popular opinion has for too long suggested that older drivers are a menace and should undergo mandatory re-tests – or be removed from the road.

“However, we want to encourage senior drivers to stay mobile, while also ensuring they remain physically and mentally comfortable with the driving task.

“Self-reflection starts with an acceptance that we’re all more vulnerable on the road than we think we are. It includes a willingness to recognise the situations that may lead to increased risk, and to ask where, when and why they occur.

“Learning from those situations, perhaps with some expert help, is a good way for a senior driver to stay as safe as possible for as long as possible.”

Top tips for staying safe GEM has produced the following tips for staying safe behind the wheel:

• Reflect on your driving, learn from your mistakes and near misses. Don’t pretend they’re not happening.

• Listen to any concerns voiced by family members and friends. If they highlight a safety issue, it’s only because they care about you.

• Get fit and stay fit. If possible, do some exercise for 15 to 20 minutes each day.

• Be sure to have regular eye tests. These allow early detection of possible problems.

• Get a driver MOT, such as GEM’s driver assessment. It’s an enjoyable way of updating your skills.

• Make sure the car you drive best suits your current needs.

• Adapt your driving to avoid journeys that cause you stress or discomfort. Plan journeys to avoid using the roads at really busy times, and build in breaks on longer trips.

Older driver and passenger in a car