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IAM calls for strategy for older drivers

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The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists is urging the government to create a strategy for older drivers in light of recent research.

Its study, conducted by TRL using its DigiCar simulator, found drivers over 75 have better attitudes to safety, deal with hazards better than young drivers and use experience to increase their safety margins on the road.

However, there were two areas of concern:

  • Compared with other age groups, the eldest group appeared to stop short of the stop line at junctions and not look as often as others before pulling out.
  • Older drivers failed to look in their rear view mirror as much as other age groups on the motorway.

The report found that older drivers were likely to have less flexibility in neck movement and poorer vision standards but this did not translate into differences in driving performance. 

Neck flexibility varied widely, with some older drivers as flexible as some in the youngest group.

The IAM believes it is important these findings are used in on-road and online assessments to ensure that older drivers understand the risks they face and what they can do to improve their driving in key areas.

In the light of this new report the IAM is calling for:

  • A government action plan for older drivers
  • More car manufacturers considering older drivers in vehicle design
  • Greater publicity to encourage health professionals to discuss driving
  • Better information for older drivers and their families
  • Online self-assessment tools for older drivers
  • Wider availability of voluntary on-road driving assessments
  • Better partnership working at a local level

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “The government needs to create a strategy now to deal with the ageing driving population.

“Older drivers, their families and friends deserve access to assessment and information to help them stay safe on the road. As well as this, car makers need to look at innovative ways to use technology to help this growing sector and the medical profession has to improve the way it delivers support and advise to keep drivers fit for the roads.”

TRL principal humanfactors researcher Nick Reed said: “This study revealed that in many of the driving scenarios tested, older drivers were typically as safe as their younger counterparts.

"It was notable that performance was more varied across the older participants; seemingly reflecting differences in the ageing process and highlighting how difficult it is to make judgements about driving ability based solely on age.

"It was pleasing to identify specific areas of concern for older drivers and perhaps to correct some common misconceptions about their driving ability.”

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