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#1 21-07-14 11:01:53

johnp
Verified Member
From: Dorset
Registered: 04-03-06
Posts: 2,636

Older Drivers Article

Book 4    “ Driving is Challenging and Important for Older Drivers” 20/7/14 John P Brown (Driving Assessor and Disability Adviser) http://www.drivingincludesu.co.uk ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When is someone too old to drive?

Most people in their 60s or 70s will state an age which is 10 years beyond their own age, but I hope that those who think about it will say drivers should only give up after all avenues to keep them safe have been explored, whatever their age may be. There are a few older drivers who will hang on to their licence, but have no intention of driving; it is a status symbol and makes them feel they are not getting old: some need the licence because it is a necessity and some because they are actually good drivers and enjoy driving. There will always be a few belligerent ones for whom I have no sympathy, who hang on because they see it as ‘their right’ even though they are not safe.

In my work I regularly guide older drivers to voluntarily give up their licences and most are very willing to do so, but they need to be gently led to make that decision for themselves. They are not stupid just because they are getting older and very rarely have I met anyone who could not be persuaded to make the best decision for everyone concerned, even if it meant voluntarily relinquishing their licence. It does not have to be an officious or legalistic process, but just a common sense agreement. Then there are those who want to give up, but it is family members who insist they remain driving to preserve their independence. In a recent case the daughter did not want to recognise that her mother was getting older and needing more emotional and actual support, but working with the mum gave her the strength to voluntarily and personally decide to surrender her licence and to rely more on others and to encourage their support. Family dynamics!

Sadly there are good drivers who are having their licences unnecessarily removed because of Age Discrimination and it is having a devastating effect on their lives and the well-being of those around them. If they were younger, it would just not be acceptable, but there is no voice speaking up against an insidious move to ‘Test’ older drivers. It is dressed up to sound acceptable as an ‘Assessment’ or ‘Appraisal’ and excuses will be made to justify the reasoning, but it seems to be a means to remove them from our roads because of the presumption that if they are getting old they must be unsafe, instead of providing appropriate refresher training to help them stay safe.

Let me give you a composite of actual scenarios I have recently been involved with who are medically fit and competent. I make it personal to help readers relate because age will affect us all.

You are a retired professional involved in a minor incident involving slight paint damage. It is not clear who is at fault because the bus may have pulled out without looking whilst you were passing , but because your age is over 70 the Police suggest you take an older drivers’ course. It is vital that whilst you are still safe to drive you retain your clean licence because you are a full time carer so you jump at the opportunity, especially when you are advised that it will prevent you having to be involved with the courts. After over 50 years clean driving, you are proud of your driving record and don’t want to be involved with anything legal, so you willingly agree and pay the £173 ‘course’ fee.

You then find that the so-called ‘course’ is to all intents and purposes a 2 hour ‘Test’. You are told it is a ‘Fitness to Drive Course’ run by a Mobility Organisation ‘to assist people with Disabilities or Medical Conditions to drive independently’. But as you are not disabled, nor have any medical condition, you wish to prepare beforehand so take a few lessons with an ADI and go to the County Road Safety Scheme to get their opinion of your driving. You are taken out in your own car near to where you live and are given helpful advice and a clean bill of driving health for another 2 years.

You are then informed the Formal Assessment will take place in a distant City where you would never choose to drive, in a Car with which you are unfamiliar, with 2 People you do not know Examining you under Verbal instruction and you are not allowed to be accompanied on the drive by a friend or your Driving Instructor. The person sitting in the back will be an Occupational Therapist assessing your Cognitive Responses and the person next to you will be a Driving Instructor observing your Driving Ability. Unlike a Driving Test you will only get two chances to succeed.

After a long, tiring, anxious journey the first session is indoors and involves a reaction test, various theory tests and a Test of Cognitive Ability and Memory which will last for about 45 minutes followed by an hour driving both off-road and on-road; an exhausting and alien experience, but you trust the Report will be sent back to the Police so they can clear your name. – Not the DVLA.

It is not what you expected and you feel aggrieved and angry and find the level of traffic, the complexity of lane changes, various reversing exercises, motorway driving, to be onerous tasks. This is exacerbated because you are trying to hear, remember and process verbal instructions under observation and understandably you make a few mistakes and are classed as ‘clinically unsafe’ and warned not to drive and to leave your car and get a taxi home. You feel a bit like the story of Black Beauty as the Test has been like flogging a stalwart old horse to exhaustion and when after giving its all, it stumbles it is discarded, but this time it is you who feels discarded by society.

The work of the Forum of Mobility Centres is vital, but it seems as if some have branched out into an area of law enforcement they were not established to undertake and in so doing are being counter-productive to their core task of helping drivers become mobile. The message is getting out that if people value their licences they should avoid such establishments. That is so sad. The whole process of Assessment needs more openness and a total revision to meet the needs of the drivers and society as a whole. At present the lives of some older drivers are being unnecessarily ruined, whilst other unsafe drivers continue to drive. If everyone who had a minor incident was referred for assessment with the threat of the removal of their licence so putting them above the Courts then it may be acceptable, but to select only those over 70 makes it Age Discrimination.

“The awful impact of being immobile is only just beginning. I feel despondent and frankly humiliated. I wish I had opted for Prosecution now as I may have had a Fine and points on my ‘virgin licence,’ but would still have been mobile. I was lulled into believing they were there to help me when they really had different motives. I feel deceived by the options I was given.”

(As this is a general article I cannot go into the individual aspects of each case above. I feel guilty criticising these systems, but my loyalty must be to my clients. It is a shambles and needs investigation and standardisation) JPB.


Driving is books-
1. "safe and responsible INDEPENDENCE."
2. "DISABILITY into ABILITY" 
3. "PSYCHOLOGY than SYSTEMS.
www.drivingincludesu.co.uk

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21-07-14 11:01:53

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Re: Older Drivers Article



#2 21-07-14 15:18:11

AUTAX
Verified Member
Registered: 22-07-11
Posts: 1,032

Re: Older Drivers Article

I would have thought the police would have offered an NDAC course run locally.

That's what happens in Dorset.

And why a Professional person? What difference is there between them and an ordinary man in the street?


Be Fear-less, go GEAR-LESS!

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#3 22-07-14 09:50:52

johnp
Verified Member
From: Dorset
Registered: 04-03-06
Posts: 2,636

Re: Older Drivers Article

The lady I referred to in the article came from Dorset.
Obviously referred to DVLA because of age.

The reason for me using the word professional was that he was a top industrialist
with vast driving experience who because of his position was able to fund lessons
which the man in the street was not able to do.

He was able to get his licence back but he had spent around £1000 on lessons and solicitors.
The man in the street would not have been able to.

I was not able in the article to give all the cases as it would be inappropriate and not the purpose of the article.


Driving is books-
1. "safe and responsible INDEPENDENCE."
2. "DISABILITY into ABILITY" 
3. "PSYCHOLOGY than SYSTEMS.
www.drivingincludesu.co.uk

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