How can senior drivers contribute ‘Towards Zero’ and be safe on the road?

Senior lady sitting in her car smiling at the camera after taking her driver assessmentAfter attending the Australasian Road Safety Conference in Queensland, Id like to share some information with you about the key national Road Safety Strategy “Towards Zero”. What I like about this strategy is that it acknowledges that all people will make mistakes, so they look to other elements to absorb and reduce the impacts of these mistakes.

The key elements are; Safer drivers, Safer speeds,Safer roads and Safer cars.

“Towards Zero” means that the aim by 2020 is that there are zero deaths or serious injuries on the road… a mighty mission! If you would like to read the WA version of this strategy have a look on the WA Road Safety Commissions website.

Today, lets look at the “Safer driver”…. and in particular what can we do as a Senior Driver to increase safety?

Use Safer Driving habits to protect you on the road:

  • Senior undergoing an driver assessment at ILC. Lady sitting in her car with OT pointing to controls.Be ready to drive – Check your seatbelt, seat and mirror positions, pedal position.  Simple mistakes like confusing brake and accelerator pedals can lead to serious crashes.
  • Increase your vehicle gap to allow extra response time.
  • Drive during the middle of the day. It can be harder to see in the late afternoon sun and at night.
  • Be well rested and avoid driving if you are unwell.

Look out for changes in your driving. Sometimes we aren’t aware that changes are happening. Have a think about the following list and chat with other family members also – (be open to their comments)
Do you :

  • Experience ‘near misses’, horns blaring at you, or had a minor crash?
  • Have friends or family expressed concerns about your driving?
  • Feel nervousness or reduced confidence when behind the wheel?
  • Find it difficult to turn your head and see over your shoulder?
  • Find it hard to handle difficult driving situations, including:
  • Being surprised by passing cars
  • Braking harder than normal for hazards
  • Going through red lights or stop signs
  • Turning too fast or too slowly
  • Backing into or over objects
  • Running over the kerb
  • Keeping the car centred in the lane
  • Judging when to turn at intersections.

If you notice any of these changes, it might be time to look at your transport options.

When might it be time to stop driving?

Making the decision to retire from driving doesn’t mean you will lose your independence. While there will be some lifestyle changes, if you plan ahead you can make the transition to not driving easier. Look at where you live and consider if it has good access to public transport, shops, doctors and your social network.

People often feel that using public transport and taxis can be expensive, when in fact, if you compare this to the costs of maintaining, registering and running a car, the difference can be negligible. Some people also enjoy reducing the stress of driving and realise that using public transport can be much easier, particularly on longer journeys. Give it a try and see if public transport can be included in your travel plans, even while still driving.

I would love to hear any comments on this information or experiences you can share on senior driving safety.

(Information adapted from On the Road 65 Plus, Staying Independent and Safe, Transport for NSW 2015)

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