In July 2016, Guildford Magistrates spared an elderly woman from a jail sentence following a crash that left six seriously injured. The 89 year old lady struck four adults and two toddlers as she lost control of her Volkswagen Polo in a Guildford shopping area in October 2015. Sadly the lady, in a state of confusion, hit the wrong pedal and frantically attempted to avoid people. Following sentencing to eight weeks in prison, suspended for six months, there has been a great deal of fresh debate about the safety of older drivers.
There is much to be taken into consideration as everyone ages differently so there can be no specific age cut-off as to when someone should stop driving. Some people are more than capable of driving safely well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s. It is also true however that the elderly are at a higher risk for road traffic accidents and this can be due to a number of factors such as decline in eyesight/hearing, reduced reaction time, dementia or brain impairment.
There may be a health issue causing someone’s driving abilities to reduce and there could also be a solution. Perhaps a stronger pair of glasses are needed? A better hearing aid? Adaptations made to the car?
Giving up driving can be a sensitive subject to broach with a loved one, after all being a driver offers us independence and a sense of freedom. However, if you feel the person has become a danger to themselves and others on the roads you must talk to them about it. Try to do so with sensitivity and tact, perhaps being prepared for a defensive response initially.
Stopping driving, if that is the safest option, does not have to mean becoming housebound and reliant on others to get about. Find out what public or community transport options are available and what concessions can be claimed to travel costs on public transport.
There is much to consider but paramount has to be everyone’s safety. For more in-depth information we suggest looking at the Age UK website which is full of useful information on related topics.
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