Using the Road

Older drivers have far fewer crashes than younger drivers, but an older person’s risk of being killed or suffering serious injury as a result of a road crash is up to five times greater than that of a young person, this is because of their increased physical frailty.
 
What puts older drivers at risk?
There are a number of factors that put older drivers at risk of being involved in a crash. These include:
  • The ageing process – as fragility increases with age older drivers and passengers are more likely to be killed in a road crash than younger drivers or passengers.
  • Your sight, hearing and judgement of speed will not be as sharp as they were when you were younger. Weaker muscles and stiffening joints make it difficult for you to turn your head to check blind spots.
  • Environmental factors – signs and road markings may be difficult for you to see at night, small lettering might be difficult to read and large intersections can be confusing.
  • The vehicle – the vehicle you use may put you at risk. Older drivers tend to drive older vehicles which may lack modern safety features.
  • Medical conditions – conditions such as arthritis make it more difficult for you to turn your head, grip and turn the steering wheel and press the accelerator or brake.
 
Reducing the risk
The risks to older drivers of being involved in a crash can be reduced by:
  • Improving driving behaviour and skills – this includes wearing a seat belt, taking a driver refresher course and keeping fit and healthy.
  • Improving your knowledge – ensure you are up-to-date with the Highway Code and know of changes in the law in relation to driving.
  • Improving your vehicle – drive the safest vehicle you can afford.
  • Take regular eye checks – if you pick up on changes in your eyesight you can act on this by ensuring that you have the right glasses or contact lenses.
  • Being aware of how medication affects your driving – make sure that you ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can drive if you are taking prescribed medication.