Advice for mature drivers during Vulnerable Road User Week to ensure they're #FitForTheRoad
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This year's theme for #ProjectEDWARD, which stands for Every Day Without A Road Death, is #FitForTheRoad.
Project EDWARD is supported by the DfT, Highways England, the National Police Chiefs Council, the National Fire Chiefs Council and a large number of police forces, fire and rescue organisations, policy making groups and businesses.
Throughout this week we are looking awareness raising to help protect vulnerable road users in Derbyshire and today's topic is focusing on mature drivers.
Mature motorists come with a wealth of driving experience and knowledge, however over time, our sight, hearing, reaction times and judgment of speed and distance may not be quite as sharp as it once was.
There is no set age when a person must legally stop driving and this point varies for every individual, depending on health and fitness levels and age-related conditions that may affect safe driving abilities.
Upon reaching the age of 70, driving licences automatically expire. To renew it, a self-assessment must be filled-in declaring the individual is medically fit to continue driving and they must reapply for this every three-years.
We want drivers to continue their journey safely for longer and have put the following signs to look out for in case you feel your, or a friend or family member’s, driving ability may be deteriorating:
- Slower reaction times, for example late breaking.
- Driving significantly below the speed limit.
- Mobility problems making it difficult to turn to see when reversing, or making you struggle to use the handbrake or foot pedals.
- Failing to signal or signalling incorrectly.
- Hitting kerbs.
- Having trouble with turning at junctions.
- Keeping a foot constantly over the brake.
- General confusion or disorientation behind the wheel.
- Over-revving the engine, especially on low-speed manoeuvres.
- Difficulties with low-light or reluctance to drive at night-time.
- Avoidance of driving to new or unfamiliar places.
- Recent dents or damage to the car, which often cannot be explained.
Don’t worry, sometimes simple adjustments are all that is needed to help assist - such as using parking sensors, hill start assist, cruise control and adding blindspot mirrors. Or switching your car for a light, easy to use vehicle with variable power steering or an automatic gearbox.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you are driving both safely and legally
Undertaking the following steps will help to identify if you are safe to be behind the wheel and also may reduce the risk of being involved in a collision, which could harm yourself or other road users:
- Make sure you go for regular eyesight tests with an optician. It's the law that you must be able to read a car registration plate from 20 metres away - this can be with your glasses or contact lenses if you use them.
- If taking prescribed medication, always ask your doctor or pharmacist that you are allowed to drive on this medication and ensure that you always take them on time. Even some over the counter medication can make you drowsy, so it's vital that you always read the labels or ask a pharmacist for advice.
- If you develop any medical conditions that could affect your ability to drive safely, it is your responsibility to inform the DVLA - failure to do so is a criminal offence and it could carry a maximum fine of £1000. You can find further information on the government website: Check if a health condition affects your driving
- Consider taking a voluntary driver assessment course. These provide an opportunity to brush up on your driving skills and reduce any bad habits you may have picked up over the years, along with giving you a renewed sense of driving confidence.
Visit the Older Drivers Forum, who are running some free webinars this week that may also be of assistance to you.
Worried about someone else's driving?
The initial conversation on a person's driving ability may be difficult to broach, but if you feel that they’ve become a danger on the roads then it’s important these concerns are addressed.
Knowing when to hang up those car keys will be an emotional time, but it's important for them to know they are doing it for the right reasons in keeping themselves and others from harm and it does not mean their independence is being taken away – there's plenty of other options available for keeping active and getting out and about around Derbyshire and beyond.
If you have broached the subject and the driver is refusing to follow the above steps, you can make a report to the DVLA (Contact DVLA), which will be treated confidentially.
Please share this advice with your family and friends to help us protect the vulnerable and keep the roads of Derbyshire a safe place for all.