Both of our Villages have experienced recent serious driving incidents. One where a resident collided with a fence and drove into a building and the other where the resident collided with a structure and other vehicles. Thankfully no one was physically injured in either incident and because both drivers were properly licenced and insured, the financial costs are covered by their insurance. If the driver had been unlicenced, insurance would not cover them and the residents would have incurred personal costs of either $50,000 or $100,000. Driving within the Village without a valid driver’s licence is never acceptable.
Traffic Accident Commission research shows that Drivers over 75 have the highest relative risk of accidents compared to any age group – including P plater new drivers and they have produced a checklist to help older drivers assess their own driving safety and help them modify their driving behaviour.
Some of the questions to ask yourself are:
- Suffer from any serious health conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, a heart condition, high blood pressure or anxiety?
- Take medication that may impair your driving?
- Have difficulty reacting quickly to other drivers’ actions?
- Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
- Ignore or misinterpret traffic signs and signals?
- Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
- Become easily flustered or angry?
- Have difficulty with glare of oncoming headlights, streetlights or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
- Find it hard to turn your head, neck, shoulders or body while in traffic or parking?
- Had one or more near accidents?
- Have difficulty maintaining concentration while driving?
- Have your passengers warn you about things on the road you may not have seen, or have seen too late?
- Feel uncomfortable in heavy traffic?
If you answered yes to any of the above, the TAC offer simple tips to keep older drivers driving safely, some of which include.
- Use public transport or drive to the closest, most convenient form of public transport.
- Try to limit driving to off-peak periods.
- Plan shorter driving periods, and rest along the way.
- Try to drive only in daylight hours and avoid driving at sunset or sunrise – both are times of high glare and poor visibility.
- Try to avoid non signalled right hand turns where possible.
- Get a few refresher driving lessons.
- Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking or have taken medication.
- Have your eyes tested at least once every two years and make sure your optometrist knows that you drive.
- Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any effect your medication may have on your driving.
- Choose the safest route, rather than the most direct one.
More information is available on the TAC website http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/safe-driving/older-drivers
Deciding to stop driving is a confronting choice for anyone, however being aware of your own driving safety and being in control of when you make this choice is much better than being reported by another driver and having to undergo and subsequently fail a Vic Roads driver assessment.
Kim Jackson, Executive Manager