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AIBU

that pensioners driving could be a danger on the roads

(85 Posts)
mollie65 Tue 03-Feb-15 08:16:25

what do you all think about OAPs (who may only be in their 60s ) being a danger on the road.
At less than 70 years old I find driving at night difficult so avoid it and drive within what I perceive as my capabilities ( and those of the old car I drive) but are we all able to recognise the slow decline that could make us a danger on the road especially if suffering from dementia/alzheimers/poor eyesight.
interesting views on mumsnet
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/2298657-to-support-the-idea-of-re-testing-pensioners-driving?

J52 Tue 03-Feb-15 08:23:20

Why should my driving be any worse than a newly qualified, inexperienced driver?
DH passed his test at 17, in London. He is now 65 and has never had an accident or blemish on his licence. Neither have I. We both drive daily. x

hildajenniJ Tue 03-Feb-15 08:31:11

Night driving is becoming more difficult for me too. I was blaming my new(ish) glasses, but perhaps it is my eyes. Driving during the day is perfectly fine. I love driving, and have been a regular motorist since I passed my test age 23. We did not have a car until then!! If I did give up driving I would never get to work. No busses run at 03.00. DH and I are considering moving in to town when he retires next year. We would be able to walk to work then!!

absent Tue 03-Feb-15 08:34:16

Of course some older drivers recognise that they are not reliable at night or on motorways or whatever, but there have been quite a few instances of older drivers doing ridiculous and very dangerous things. A car can be a lethal weapon so perhaps an extra test of older drivers is not a bad move.

annodomini Tue 03-Feb-15 08:44:11

I've been driving for 55 years and have never had cause to doubt my ability until recently when I've found myself more uncertain in the dark. It doesn't help that the local authority has cut the lighting on the main road from Stockport to Macclesfield which is the one I'm most likely to use. So I confine myself mostly to driving - if I have to - within the village where at least we have lighting.

NfkDumpling Tue 03-Feb-15 08:45:58

We moved into town so we could still be independent when driving becomes a problem. DH now admits night driving is becoming more difficult, so then I drive.

I would say that I found having to do a 'caught just exceeding the speed limit naughty person' course my driving has improved, so perhaps an update course would be a good idea. Cars and driving conditions have changed an awful lot since I passed my test 50 years ago - and having a certificate would exonerate us from automatic blame in the case of an accident.

I do think some people do continue to drive when they should give up, through age - or through disability - but in more rural areas public transport is so dire and taxis so expensive there is often no alternative.

Soutra Tue 03-Feb-15 08:52:10

Let's rephrase this
"Some pensioners (and some who are still at work)"

Anya Tue 03-Feb-15 09:04:42

I've always thought that everyone should re-sit the driving test sometime in their life, perhaps every 10 years as someone on MN suggested.

Trouble is with elderly drivers the deterioration in eyesight, reaction time, etc is usually gradual and it can take an accident or near miss to make them aware of this. The other problem is 'grumpy old man' syndrome where they blame everyone else on the road but not themselves.

I think, generally but not exclusively, woman are more likely to hand over their keys or limit driving when they begin to feel they are not 100% safe behind the wheel.

PRINTMISS Tue 03-Feb-15 09:05:14

I stopped driving when I reached 70, merely because I thought I was a danger on the roads - too cautious, taking ages to decide to go round the roundabout, or leave the side road, and could feel the frustration of any driver behind me. The other half still drives, but only locally at the moment because he awaiting a cataract removal - still has the opticians approval to drive, we do not go out in the dusk, because that is difficult. I think we need to be sensible about this, although it is difficult when a car has always been available on the doorstep. I do keep reminding my husband that we have legs to walk with as well, and we are fortunate to be able still to use them, but of course not everyone is that lucky.

Teetime Tue 03-Feb-15 09:11:27

What concerns me is that medical advice re driving seems to be lacking. One acquaintance of our recently had a cerebral aneurysm and was not advised to avoid driving for a while - at least until his check up we thought. I have recently met two young women who have had a stroke and they haven't been advised not to drive either - I thought this was normal practice as I say at least until their check up.

ninathenana Tue 03-Feb-15 09:24:44

I don't think the word pensioners should be used in the article. Much fairer to say people over X age. Possibly 60.

Yes, I do think it's a good idea to have to be re tested when your older. If you suspect someone is incapable of driving anymore you can report them to DLA. Several people on the Alzheimer's forum have had to do this for a loved one who refused to stop.

ginny Tue 03-Feb-15 09:32:19

It's a difficult question. If only everyone could be aware of when they should not be driving. I'm not so happy about driving on unlit roads at night these days. My FIL is still driving at 85 but I would not get in the car with him although I never have been comfortable with his driving.

Dh drives a lot with his job and I feel quite safe with him but yes of course any problem is caused by other drivers who are always assumed to be women !

Katek Tue 03-Feb-15 09:45:36

Most of my driving is on unlit rural roads, often return journeys of up to 70 miles. I'm still happy enough to drive although I'm in the very fortunate position of not needing specs and have good night vision. (Thanks for the genes, dad!) I'm not so keen on city driving, however, and avoid it where possible using Park and Ride and my bus pass. I do find myself getting stuck behind elderly - and not so elderly - drivers who do not drive to the speed limit causing tailbacks, impatience and risky overtaking. I think if you don't feel confident driving to the speed limit then you should perhaps consider whether you should still be behind the wheel. My 87 year old FIL is still driving and he's an accident waiting to happen. His perception of speed and distance isn't good and I refuse to get in a car with him now.

FlicketyB Tue 03-Feb-15 09:55:02

How well you drive in your 60 pluses is as variable as how well you drive when under that age. It is just those seeing a bit of bad driving notice and comment if the driver is old but not if they are not. I do accept that some drivers do get more dithery as they get older, but, on the other hand they are less likely to speed or cut people up.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists offers special test drive for those over 70 to assess their driving and make recommendations. DH (70 plus) has just done the full IAM course, passed it and is now a member of the institute. I do not want to do that but I am going to have the 70 plus assessment.

whenim64 Tue 03-Feb-15 10:31:03

The suggestion on the Mumsnet thread of a computerised reaction test seems a good idea to me. The majority of older drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents, but those who are clearly struggling because of frailty or slow reaction times might not be the best judge of their own abilities on the road. I have to say I see my car as my independence and would be lost without it, but if I was struggling to drive safely I'd be loathe to go out in it.

Katek Tue 03-Feb-15 10:31:17

That's good to know for the future FlicketyB. Statistically aren't younger drivers more likely to be involved in accidents than our age group?

KatyK Tue 03-Feb-15 10:31:18

I don't drive but my DH will be 69 next month and he is an excellent driver. Never had an accident of any sort. However, there is an elderly lady who comes to visit a neighbour of mine and watching her trying to reverse when she is leaving is quite scary (I would think she is getting on for 90). As she reverses she comes partially onto our drive, with the car shaking and juddering. I fully expect her to come careering through our house any time soon!

Anya Tue 03-Feb-15 10:35:57

That's interrsting Flick I'd like to do that assessment myself when I'm old enough.

pompa Tue 03-Feb-15 11:24:32

I think the figures they quite speak for themselves, older drivers are less accident prone than younger drivers.
Most (but not all) of us recognise when we are no longer safe (primarily because we get nervous about driving) and voluntarily stop.
I do think my reactions are slower than they used to be, but are they, or is it that I am now more aware of the dangers? I certainly drive slower and less aggressively than I used to.
I would however prefer all drivers over the age of 50 to have to show proof of acceptable eyesight, too many think their sight is OK when it is far from the legal requirement.
As said the word pensioner is irrelevant, the capabilities of older drivers is so diverse age alone is no measure of competence or ability.

tanith Tue 03-Feb-15 11:38:17

I think testing over 50 /60's is a good idea as others have said not everyone recognises when their driving is deteriorating. I drive a lot and drove for a living for many years and hope that I will know when I am unsafe to drive, I love to drive and will miss it when I am not able to anymore. I like the idea of testing regularly and am interested in the Advanced Driving course I shall look into that when I am nearing 70.

feetlebaum Tue 03-Feb-15 11:43:42

Good for you both, Flickety.

Others might like to know that the IAM assessments are carried out in your own car, with an IAM examiner who will give you a full verbal and written report at the end of your drive. Of course there is no pass or fail to worry about!

www.iam.org.uk or telephone 0208-996 9600

nonnasusie Tue 03-Feb-15 13:13:21

Here in Italy you have to renew your license every 5 years! You have to have a" medical" which consists of standing in front of a chart with letters on (like in the opticians) and covering one eye at a time with your hand and reading the letter being pointed to! The trouble is ,looking at some of the people driving here ,I'm sure they go up the chart until a letter is found (that huge A at the top) that can be read!!! Oh, and you have to pay approx. €50 to the "doctor"!!

lulu321 Tue 03-Feb-15 13:16:13

I would hope that I will know when I am unsafe to drive.
I must admit that I do find driving at night more difficult and try to avoid it, but still enjoy driving in the daylight and feel safe. I am 64

mollie65 Tue 03-Feb-15 13:28:33

was not suggesting all pensioners are dangerous on the road - just that maybe we should be subject to some kind of test (myself included as I deteriorate) as we have all seen the 'old ones' peering over/through the steering wheel, forgetting to indicate, unable to reverse properly (not that some younger drivers are not guilty of the same).
my premise was - are we all aware of our limitations (it is reassuring that others find night driving difficult) when I was younger I commuted long distances to work and I know I would not be safe/relaxed about doing the same now.
There are those anecdotally who are NOT aware of their limitations or feel because they have reached a ripe old age without a major accident are somehow as good as they once were (men in particular seem to hold this opinion about their driving ability. )

Pittcity Tue 03-Feb-15 13:29:36

DD2 had a crash while swerving to avoid an 80+ male driver who was driving against the flow on the wrong side of a dual carriageway. Nobody could stop him until he crashed his car.

A young girl was killed in our town by another 80+ who careered onto the pavement. He had been told to stop driving by police days earlier when he sped into a petrol pump. Due to a campaign by the girl's mother Police now have the power to take your driving licence from you on the spot, they didn't have this power before.

I agree that it is not age that makes you a bad driver, but that we should all know our limits. I am sure a lot of people would not drive if there was an alternative!