Growing old or becoming physically or mentally unwell is a topic which understandably causes alarm and discomfort. But when it comes to getting behind the wheel, monitoring health and wellbeing is paramount not only in keeping oneself safe, but also other road users.
This has led the UK's largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, to call for older drivers to ask themselves the question: How do I know when it's right to stop driving?
One such older driver who asked them self this question is Guildford resident, Glyndwr Radcliffe-Brine. A deterioration in his arithmetic ability and a faltering memory made him and his wife realise something about his health didn't add up, which might subsequently impact his ability to stay safe behind the wheel.
This led Glyndwr to undertake IAM RoadSmart's Mature Driver Review, a relaxed one-hour appraisal with a qualified driving examiner. Here, drivers follow a route in their own vehicle on roads familiar to them. At the end of the session, the driver will receive guidance on how to continue driving safely for years to come.
After completing his assessment, Glyndwr took the voluntary decision to put the brakes on driving until he had been for a full check-up. This led him on a journey which uncovered something no one had spotted and ultimately saved his life.
Indeed, Glyndwr decided to book a comprehensive eye test, where he was told that he had lost the ability to see things that appear in the lower right quadrant of his vision, and he might have had a stroke. Glyndwr was then referred to specialists at the Royal Surrey Hospital (RSCH) and the Stoke Clinic in Frimley Park who revealed that he actually had a tumour in his head 'the size of a satsuma'.
Glyndwr remarked: "The fact that I had no indication of the lack of vision in my right-hand lower quadrant for potentially five years is alarming when one considers that I was driving a two-tonne machine, often at high speeds on long journeys. This made me a serious danger to myself and other road users.
"This is why I strongly advise all older drivers to conduct a Mature Driver Review, as it can often be the catalyst needed to investigate your health more closely."
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, added: "The 12.1 million drivers over the age of 60 in the UK possess decades of driving knowledge and experience. So, as long as older drivers are fit to drive, we of course support them in their desire to stay behind the wheel to maintain independence, as well as enjoyment that comes with driving.
"However, Glyndwr's powerful story is a reminder that sometimes, health issues are not always obvious, nor as they first seem. In the case of Glyndwr, completing IAM RoadSmart's Mature Driver Review was an integral part of the process which ultimately led him to receive the medical assistance he needed, as well as keep other road users safe."
The need for older drivers to assess whether they are fit to drive is accentuated by a survey conducted by IAM RoadSmart in the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here it was uncovered that 532 people (17.4%) said they had missed a routine eye test, 127 people (4.1%) confirmed they had a visual issue they were unable to get checked due to the pandemic, while 396 (12.9%) stated they had a medical problem they were unable to get checked.
Neil commented: "These were concerning statistics which inevitably had an impact on road safety. But now that GPs and opticians are starting to get back to normal, we urge older road users to get checked out as well as reviewing any medication they may be on. This will ensure that any issues which may impede ability to drive are identified and dealt with accordingly.
"While our survey revealed that 97% of mature drivers intend to continue driving for the foreseeable future, most current drivers would consider giving up driving if they had a health condition or if a professional advised them to stop driving. This is why I am confident that mature drivers will do the right thing and help keep the UK one of the safest countries in the world for driving."
To find out more about IAM RoadSmart, including their range of driving courses such as the Mature Driver Review, visit https://www.iamroadsmart.com/guidance-for-older-drivers
*Article Source www.iam.vuelio.co.uk