Moan for the Day – Older Drivers

Omg! Seriously!  When is 30mph not 30mph? When it’s a bloody 40mph zone.

So, once again, I got caught behind someone – well two people actually – who didn’t think they should be driving at a safe speed. Not speeding, quite the opposite in fact, crawling along the back roads.

One of the roads out of the city has changed from 50mph to 40mph as, I believe, the residents requested the change. This road is easily driven at 45mph, and it is actually really difficult keeping your speed to 40mph…..not if you’re an older driver though quite obviously. In fact, they seem to find it perfectly easy to keep their speed to well under the 40mph limit. Annoyingly!

Today the second “slow driver” drove so slowly, on roads that are difficult to overtake on, that the van driver behind me became so impatient that they overtook both of us, barely scrapping past, and narrowly missing the vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Now I   know this was a d..k move on their part, but I honestly understand why they overtook. My own patience was at boiling point.

Some will say that the older generation are better drivers, and have far less accidents, than that of the younger generation. Statistics supposedly backing up this evidence. But I found something very interesting today in a report by The Guardian online in October 2013 called “Dangerous Drivers: how old are they?”

The Transport Research Laboratory used their findings, backed by a a paper published by L.G. Goldstein called ‘Youthful drivers as a special safety problem’, to try and reduce accidents by suggesting that the probationary licence should be issued from the age of 18 (you can currently apply 3 months before your 17th birthday) in order to reduce road accidents. They gave three statistics: a) “young and novice drivers are overrepresented in road collisions in GB and worldwide”, b) “22% of fatalities on GBs roads in 2011 occurred in collisions involving a driver aged 17-24”, and c) “in 65% of these collisions the fatal injuries were sustained by passengers or road users other than the young driver”. But the paper backing up a) was published in 1972!

The Guardian continued their research and found data from the Department of Transport (26.09.13) that did not support the findings above. It found that more accidents were caused by those aged 70 and over. It went on to say that in 2013 of the 595,364 young drivers in the UK 10,235 were involved in accidents – about 2 in every 100 (2%). Compare this to the 4m older drivers holding a licence (representing 10%), many of whom are actually unlikely to drive, 6% had reported having an accident.

And in between 1989 and 2009 the risk of fatality was higher for older adults aged over 70 than younger ones. (I think ‘c’ and this statement are confusing. It doesn’t actually say what it means.)

To date over 500,000 signatures have been logged trying to get the licence laws changed. Currently over 70s have to reapply every 3 years for a licence. They fill in a form that they have declared the information to be true. Surely this cannot be correct? Even if they have to get a signature from a doctor, how will be this prove they are capable of handling a lethal weapon? A doctor will only know their physical, maybe mental, wellbeing. They won’t have a clue how the patient handles a car. Merely taking an eye test will not show whether you are a capable driver. It will not show what their responses are to situations. This is why they need to be retested. If not on the road, in a simulator.

My parents are both in their late 70s. My mum no longer drives, although she threatens it sometimes (and I get very angry as she has back, neck, shoulder and knee ailments). My dad, although cautious, is a good driver. He doesn’t drive slowly though “just because he’s scared of the other traffic on the road”. My father-in-law is turning 84 on Sunday. He is fabulous for his age. Very fit and has a full set of marbles. He still drives but I actually  feel physically sick with his weaving, stopping and starting, faster and slower, driving.  I see old people leaving bingo and getting in their cars, barely being able to turn their necks to see if traffic is coming before pulling out. Some scare the life out of me, and I am often heard yelping with dismay/amazement at their lack of understanding of what they are doing.

I apologise that this isn’t my usual jovial self, lol, but I am fed up with the older generation telling me that it is the young generation who are causing all the problems on the road.

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