Renewing your driver's licence at 70
In the UK, at the age of 70, you must renew your driver's licence with the DVLA. You are then required to repeat this process every three years, this increases to every one or two years, if you have a notifiable medical condition. This is, however, a self-certification process, where we tick boxes declaring that we are fit to drive, have no medical condition that prohibits us from driving and that we can read a number plate from 20 metres away. For some, the fact that this is a self-certification process, can be quite daunting and many older people are left unsure as to whether they should still be driving or not. This is where the Older Driver's Forum can help.
Fit for the road
During September, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower joined the Older Drivers Forum in supporting Project EDWARD's week of action, ‘Fit for the Road’, designed to help and support the mature motorist to carry on driving safely for longer.
Project EDWARD stands for 'Every Day Without A Road Death’ and is an annual UK-wide road safety campaign backed by Government, the emergency services, highways agencies, road safety organisations and British businesses.
Shockingly, on average 5 people a day are killed and around 150,000 people are injured each year on roads in Great Britain. Unfortunately, 20% of all deaths on our roads are older people. As older licence holders are increasing every year, fatalities for drivers aged 70 and over are forecast to increase by 22% by 2040.
We know that older motorists have a wealth of experience, confidence and tolerance. However, sight, hearing, reaction time and judgement of speed and distance may not be as sharp as it once was.
We can all become complacent about our driving and often pick up bad habits, which if not addressed can increase our risk of an incident on the roads. While the average older driver is a safe driver, the older driver is fragile and more likely to be injured if they are involved in a crash.
The Older Drivers Forum is about keeping mature motorists on the road safely for longer. Whether that’s giving practical and informative help and support to continue driving or pointing people in the right direction for an assessment to identify their driving needs – from wing mirror adapters to an elevated driving seat – the Older Drivers Forum can help and point you in the direction of people that can support you.
Keeping you on the road
Regular eyesight tests
Your eyesight changes in later life and this may make it harder to see road signs and other road users, especially in low light.
Older drivers frequently have difficulty seeing in poor light conditions as our eyes become less able to react quickly to changes in light. As we get older we also develop difficulty with colours and contrasts in poor light, this explains why many of us don't like driving at night.
There are also other areas in which our sight might worsen as we age. Blind spots can develop at the back of the eye that we are often unaware of, as the brain compensates for this and fills in the blanks in our vision. Cataracts can also form on the eye’s lens which can cause blurred vision.
Sometimes as we get older our field of vision will reduce and in severe cases can become tunnel vision. This can make driving dangerous as we loose our peripheral vision and therefore, won’t see a hazard appearing from the side until it is often too late. As a driver, we should all ask for a ‘Field of Vision’ check when we have an eyesight test as this is not always done as standard.
Voluntary driver assessments
These are confidence building courses where a driving instructor comes to your house and takes you out in your own car. The appraisal is informal and confidential with the aim of enhancing your current driving skills and updating knowledge, to ensure you carry on driving for as long as you are safe to do so. It is not a test so there is no pass or fail element. The assessor looks at the way the driver deals with various traffic situations on roads that you normally drive on and makes recommendations to help ensure on-going safety.
To find out more information about these courses or to locate a course provider visit: https://olderdriversforum.com/courses/
The Older Driver's Forum is a not-for-profit organisation made up of experts in road safety – with representatives from the emergency services, charities, local authorities and businesses specialising in keeping older people on the road.
If you'd like to find out more or access any of the resources discussed in this article please visit: https://olderdriversforum.com/
How the Sunflower can help people with an invisible disability on the road?
In many ways, a person's disability is always invisible when they're in a vehicle. So the Sunflower has partnered with National Highways, who manage England’s motorways and major A-roads, to ensure you feel confident, that you will receive the help you need, if you break down or need assistance. To facilitate this, National Highways are providing a free Sunflower sticker or magnet for your vehicle.
So should you break down, or need assistance, on a motorway or major A road when in England, displaying a Sunflower can provide awareness that you, or someone, in your vehicle is a Sunflower wearer. National Highways Traffic Officers are often first on the scene in an emergency on a motorway or major A road. Displaying the Sunflower sticker, or magnet, on the rear of your vehicle will indicate to traffic officers that you have a non-visible disability, so they know immediately that you may require additional support. These free stickers and magnets are available here.
If you get into trouble on the motorway contact National Highways first, and then a breakdown provider. Use a free roadside emergency phone, or call 03001235000.
You can also text National Highways for roadside assistance on 0730283600.
Tell the operator, that you are a member of the Sunflower scheme, they can make sure all the recovery and emergency services are aware that you have an invisible disability.