Urgent action needed to prevent rise in older driver casualties, says GEM

ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says new measures are needed urgently to help keep older drivers safe on their journeys. The call follows a warning that car driver deaths in the 70 to 79 age group are expected to rise by 40 per cent over the next 20 years1.

GEM is also keen to remind older motorists of the need to reflect on their own driving, to understand where they may be experiencing difficulty, and to know where to get practical advice.

A GEM spokesperson said: “We know a lot about the safety challenges faced by older drivers. These may come from the road layout, the declining flexibility of the driver, changes in the quality of their vision or from taking longer to react to an emerging hazard.

For example, junctions with sharp angles can prove difficult for drivers with restricted neck movement, so investment is needed to make these junctions safer and easier to negotiate.

At the same time, self-reflection needs starts with an acceptance that we’re all more vulnerable on the road than we think we are. It includes a willingness to recognise the situations that may lead to increased risk, and to ask where, when and why they occur.

Learning from those situations, perhaps with some expert help, is a good way for a senior driver to stay as safe as possible for as long as possible.”

Speaking up for older drivers has long been central to GEM’s long-term road safety commitment. The organisation’s ‘Still Safe to Drive’ resource (stillsafetodrive.org.uk) offers a line-up of informative videos, presented by Valerie Singleton OBE.

Additionally, GEM is pleased to be part of a consortium examining ways of developing a new older driver assessment, based on nationally-agreed standards.

GEM’s safety tips for senior drivers

  • Get fit and stay fit. If possible, do some exercise for 15 to 20 minutes each day.
  • Get a regular eye test. This allows early detection of possible problems.
  • Make sure the car you drive best suits your current needs.
  • Adapt your driving to avoid journeys that cause you stress or discomfort.
  • Reflect on your driving, learn from your mistakes and near misses. Don’t pretend they’re not happening.
  • Plan your journeys to avoid using the roads at really busy times and build in plenty of breaks on longer journeys.

Follow GEM on Twitter @MotoringAssist for the latest industry news.

1.  From Safe Driving into Old Age, a report funded by the Department for Transport published on 24th November 2021.

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