When I was in my teens, I can recall mercilessly ribbing my dad about the dead leg he told me he had. I would playfully but with some force punch it and he would say ‘ouch’ and I would then tell him it wasn’t a dead leg if he had feeling. (Yes, I was a darling.) As an adult I look back on those days with a touch of shame, as the ‘dead leg’ my dad had, was brought on by him having a stroke. His leg was weakened by this but he was deemed fit to drive.
I can remember my mum wanting him to change our family car, from a manual transmission to an automatic but he never would. Stating on a regular basis, that driving a manual gave his weakened leg a workout. I don’t know how much of this is true today but it suited my dad and he continued driving until he felt that he no longer could and this was when he was in his 70’s. He wanted to hang on to the independence and freedom he had, for as long as possible but at the same time, knew that he wasn’t as confident at driving in poor weather conditions, as he previously had been and eventually the time would come for him to hang up his steering wheel.
If he was still alive today and wanting to drive – there would be a few things I would advise him to do.
- The first would be to get online and try out a hazard perception test. You can buy the DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception from GOV.UK or from A Pass 4 U. This will give you an idea as to how quickly you are seeing what is going on around you.
- Why not try a driving assessment with your local driving school. A Pass 4 U can arrange for a driving instructor to come out with you, in your own car, to assess your driving and let you know if there is anything you need to brush up on.
- Make sure you have regular eye and hearing tests. This will help you maintain good awareness of your surroundings.
- Use your judgement wisely, if you feel going out on the road is ok for you during the day but not at nighttime – listen to yourself and accept that changes have to be made to life sometimes, as you grow older.
Listen to what your friends and family tell you if they have concerns but as I said above – if you take a driving assessment with a driving instructor, they are well equipped to advise on what you need to bring up to speed – there are many changes afoot in vehicles in this modern age and there have been many changes over the last few decades. Having a driving assessment with a driving instructor, can also allay fears that those close to you have about you being on the road.
According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, drivers over 70 are as safe as middle aged drivers – the safest group. Also deaths and serious injuries among older drivers are falling, although not quite as much as in other groups. www.olderpersonsroadsafety.com