The government recently set out a detailed action plan to address road safety issues. This may have an impact on our elderly loved ones and their ability to maintain independence. The plan means drivers over 70 may be required to take regular eyesight tests every three years, in order to maintain their licenses. Elderly drivers already have to renew their license at 70 and then continue to do so every 3 years after that. There is currently no test to take; they only have to declare that they are fit. The report explains the need for further investigation into vision issues which pose a risk to road users. It explains that good vision is not the only criteria for safe driving; manoeuvrability and reaction time are also essential to being a safe driver.
In September of last year, police began to crack down on those who are driving with failing sight. If the police stop anyone 3 times in one month for their driving, they will be asked to read a license plate from 20 metres. Those who fail have their licenses revoked immediately. This could be a scary thought to some elderly drivers and their loved ones.
Statistics on Elderly Drivers
There are currently more than 4 million drivers over 70 in the UK. The Department for Transport has provided the following statistics on elderly drivers:
- 10,974 accidents involved over 70s in 2011 compared to 11,946 involving 17 – 19 year-olds.
- Over 70s seem to struggle in high-speed situations such as motorways and certain roundabouts.
- Frailty can be an issue for older drivers, as they are likely to sustain more damage from a crash or collision.
Deciding When to Stop Driving
We hear a lot about when the elderly should consider hanging up their car keys. If your elderly loved one is struggling with their eyesight, stopping driving may seem like a logical step. However, for the driver themselves, it can feel extremely daunting. It is not just about surrendering a driving licence; it means giving up a piece of independence. Research shows that transport issues are one of the main reasons behind the problem of loneliness. It is therefore important to ensure that your elderly relative is involved in any decision to stop them driving, even if you have Power of Attorney.
Eyesight Standards for Driving
The government website explains that one must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres (with the assistance of glasses/contacts if necessary). You must also have an adequate field of vision – your optician will be able to tell you more about this. If you are worried that your eyesight has changed or is deteriorating, make an appointment with your optician.
How to Renew a Licence
Renewing your loved one’s driving licence is quick and simple. It doesn’t require approval from a third party. So as long as the forms are signed correctly, it will renew when processed. First, you have to complete and submit an online form. The form is only a page long – it asks for the driver’s National Insurance number as well as their address details. This will give them an account on the government website to renew as easily as possible. Once this is set up, follow the steps on the website to renew their license.
Concerned About Your Elderly Loved One’s Driving?
Ultimately, the decision to stop driving rests with the driver themselves (or with the DVLA). However, if you worry about your elderly loved one’s driving – either for their own safety or the safety of other road users – then you need to discuss it with them. You should approach this conversation with lots of empathy and sensitivity; imagine how you would feel if you had to give up driving. Try and focus on the positives instead. Help them look at public transport and apply for a free bus-pass, for example.
If you have serious concerns about someone’s driving and they refuse to consider giving up, you can write to the DVLA. They will then contact the local police to follow up on what you’ve told them. Of course, this should only be a last resort, as it could really affect your relationship with your loved one.
Careline365 – Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe
We all want to keep our elderly loved ones safe in their homes. A Careline alarm can offer protection from falls and injuries by getting help fast. If an alarm user presses the button on their alarm, our trained Emergency Call Handlers will assess the situation and take the appropriate action to help the alarm user. For further information, please contact our Customer Service Team on 0800 101 3333 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.