Should elderly drivers be retested?? 2

Sunday 12th July 2009, 23:03

Tagged: Driving Rant

There's an ongoing debate about whether or not elderly drivers should be retested once they reach a certain age. I believe you need to get your licence renewed every 10 years or so and there is an eye test when you reach a certain age, but IMHO that isn't enough. This is my take on the argument.

First off, a lot of them do drive so damn slow. I live in Norfolk, UK, and around here, there's a lot of small villages and towns, separated by faster roads, national speed limit, 60 MPH. Now, usually the limit is 30 through the built up areas, 40 or 50 towards the edge, and then 60 along the main roads to the next village. Thing is, a lot of elderly drivers go at 20 in a 30, 30 or 40 in a 40 or 50 respectively, and then they usually stay at about 40 or 50 when they get to the national speed limit. Now, you could say that they're just being cautious in the built up areas and staying well under the limit, and I have no real problem with that... what I have a problem with is when they go at 40 or 50 in a 60 when there is just no need. This might be because they don't know what it means - for those of you not in the UK, here's a picture. Basically, standard cars, cars with trailers/caravans, HGVs etc have a different limit on single carriageways/dual carriageways/motorways; this sign is just a catch-all, go as fast as you're allowed for this road type, based on your vehicle. Anyway, as it's just a line on a white circle, some drivers may not know what it means... but that in itself is cause for concern. If they don't know what this means, do they know what all other signs mean?? Do they know what all the safety and warning signs mean?? Debatable. Or, they may know perfectly well what it means, but they're just not confident to go at 60 MPH. That's the main concern. 60 MPH isn't really that fast, and if they're not confident to do that, on a clear, open road, with no obstacles or traffic in front, should they really be on the roads?? What they do is cause problems. People go on saying that speed kills but people going too slowly is just as bad. People behind get impatient, having to go along at 40 in a 60 for no reason, and might try to overtake, dangerously... could cause an accident. I often see them weaving about as well, going right to the edges of the road... very unsafe. The other day, I saw a fully loaded HGV overtake an elderly driver... what does that say?? If they're going slow enough for a HGV to easily overtake, something isn't right.

Secondly, it's very hard to argue that their reaction times are going to be as quick as younger drivers. If I'm going along at 60, and I see something in the road, I'm on the brakes in a split second, as is pretty much everybody else. However, from what I've seen, elderly drivers can take a second or two longer to react... a second or two may be a bit too long for a kid running out into the road to get their ball. Furthermore, it's unlikely they're going to be able to apply as much braking force as most other people. If I see a kid running out into the road, I'm not only on the brakes in a split second, I'm on them hard, foot to the floor. An elderly driver will be slower to apply the brakes, and they won't be applied with as much force... even worse news for the kid running out in the road to get their ball.

Thirdly, their judgement seems to be seriously impaired. The other day I was approaching a crossroads, I was on the main road and there was a smaller road crossing it (various little filter lanes, quite a fiddly junction really) and an elderly woman pulled out in front of me, way too late. I had to break to avoid going into the back of her; there's a general rule that if another road user has to brake due to you pulling out in front of them, don't pull out. Not only did I have to slow down quite violently from 60, she then carried on going along the road at 40. Seriously?? You cut me up, make me brake, and then crawl along the road?? Why not just wait for me to go past and then pull out?? Soon after, I overtook her, as did a few people behind me, and I gave her a nice friendly stare as I went past. Then, today, I was coming around a corner, and saw an elderly chap pulling out to overtake a flatbed lorry. It was on a corner, not a blind corner, but a corner nonetheless, but the thing is, he was only just pulling out as I was coming around the corner, as we came into eachother's sights, so there was no way in hell he had enough room to overtake safely, the corner wasn't very far away at all, he shouldn't have overtaken anything more than a cyclist there. I had to go over to the edge of the road to avoid hitting him, and I flashed my lights and gave him a blast of my horn. Two dangerous maneuvers, on the same stretch of road, in a matter of days. And I don't even go out driving that often really.

All of the above not only endangers other road users, it also endangers the elderly drivers themselves. Now, I know people are going to say that they rely on their cars for going to the shops and things, and yeah, I understand that completely, but, if you remember, I'm not trying to completely ban them; a retest would make sure they're still safe to be on the road. After all, is that not the point of the usual driver's test, to make sure we're suitable?? My Nan realised her driving was deteriorating and stopped. There's alternatives to having to drive, things can get delivered straight to them, or there's buses. And, before you think I'm labelling all elderly drivers as bad drivers, I'm not; I know some elderly people are fine drivers, and I also know that not everybody who is a bad driver is elderly, but it's a majority - the majority of elderly people have some sort or deterioration in their driving, and the majority of bad drivers on the roads are elderly. My Grandad's driving, is as good as most other people's, he got caught speeding at Easter, bit I wouldn't believe it if someone told me an elderly person got caught speeding around here.

So, that's my opinion. I'm not saying to ban them, I'm not labelling them all as bad drivers, I'm saying we need to make sure they're as competent as most other drivers, for their safety, and our own.

Sunday 12th July 2009, 23:03

Updated: Saturday 18th August 2012, 15:43

Words: 1,166

Tagged: Driving Rant

Comments

Ugh, you're lucky you don't live in Canada, old people go at 30 in a 70 zone here, it's annoying.

StingReay - Saturday 18th July 2009, 22:20

Ohh that would drive me crazy. The only place we can (legally) go at 70 is on dual carriageways and motorways so it should be easier to get past them :P

Matt Rogowski - Saturday 18th July 2009, 22:53

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