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The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has this week called for action after it emerged more than 232 UK driving licence holders are over the age of 100, with the figure set to double in the next 20 years.
With over 4.34 million licence holders currently over 70 on UK roads, the IAM is calling for more thought and resources to go into ensuring that older drivers enjoy motoring for as long as possible.
At present, the IAM claims that older drivers are more likely to fail or judge another vehicle’s path or speed, or lose control through illness or panic. As such, the organisation wants the government to take action.
If you’d like some tips on how to stay safe on the roads, read our guide below. It not only applies to older drivers, but also to drivers of any age.
Keep check of your health
Having regular check-ups at the doctors will ensure you keep in the best possible driving shape. Get your eyes checked every year and make sure your contact lenses are current. If you wear a hearing aid, make sure its checked annually. Be careful when opening windows whilst driving as the noise can sometimes impair a hearing aid’s effectiveness.
Tiredness kills, so if you’re feeling run down, make sure you avoid driving long distances. If you know you have a long journey ahead, be sure to get a full night’s sleep in preparation, so you can begin your journey with a fresh head. Make regular stops throughout your journey. It is recommended that you stop at least every 2 hours to ensure maximum driver safety.
Keep your car clean
Make sure that all of the lights and windows in your car are clean – it will help to prevent impaired vision. Give the windscreen, mirrors and headlights a good clean and, if possible, turn up the brightness on the instrument panel of your dashboard.
Choose the right car
Choose a vehicle with automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes in order to get the most out of your vehicle. Make sure you go for regular service checks and keep up with your yearly MOT inspection. If you think you need further driving assistance, choose a car with motability – equipment is installed in the car to help steer it and operate the foot pedals.
Take precautions such as leaving adequate space from the car in front of you, pay more attention at junctions and avoid distractions such as using your phone while driving or using your sat nav. If you can’t fathom out where a place is, you can always pull over to the side of the road to check the map directions. If the weather is bad or you are driving at speed, make sure you increase your braking distances.
Know your limitations
If you feel uncomfortable during your journey, don’t make it. Many older drivers voluntarily make changes to their driving habits, for example, only driving during daylight hours. You can also avoid motorways and find alternative street routes if fast-moving traffic bothers you. If you’re travelling somewhere unfamiliar, take time before your journey to plan your route well, so you feel more confident and can avoid getting lost.
Listen to yourself and others
If relatives or friends begin to make suggestions about your driving, it may be worth taking a look at your driving capability. There are a number of online self-evaluation tools which can help you to access if you think you are capable of continuing to drive or not. Alternatively, you can opt to go on a refresher course. If you are really worried, speak to your doctor who should be able to provide an unbiased opinion, or even refer you to a specialist for a more intensive evaluation.