Half of Scots fear the loss of their independence if they could no longer drive, a survey has revealed, as RoSPA launches a new road safety campaign that aims to keep people behind the wheel safely for longer.
This figure rose to one in three of those aged 65 and over. However, this age group is disproportionately vulnerable to death and serious injury on Scotland’s roads, and is more likely to have to retire from driving for health reasons.
In 2018, more than two in five drivers who were killed on Scotland’s roads were 60+ (22)*, and more than a quarter of those seriously injured were in that bracket. In all, in the same year, 43 car drivers in this age group were involved in crashes in which someone died.
Life on the Road aims to enable drivers aged 65 and over to stay on the road safely for as long as possible, by encouraging take-up of further training in later life, and by providing key information around age-related health issues. A new website, www.LifeOnTheRoad.org.uk, has been created to deliver a raft of information, while RoSPA is also running three assessment days in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to offer the over-65s a chance to take free experienced driver training.
The campaign also encourages younger family members to speak to their parents and grandparents if they are concerned about their driving. The survey revealed two-thirds of Scots said they would talk to relatives if they had concerns, and encourage them to get professional advice.
Steve Whitehouse, RoSPA’s road safety manager in Scotland, said: “We know those who are over 65 are disproportionately susceptible to being killed or seriously injured on Scotland’s roads, and what’s worse, the number of casualties in this age group is reducing more slowly than for all other ages.
“Although people aged 65 or over do more to self-regulate their driving behaviours than anyone else – for example, by sticking to roads they know or reducing the amount of night-time driving they do – there are a range of age-related conditions that could lead to safety issues on the road. But, that needn’t mean losing your licence, and by keeping an eye on these conditions and taking further training, more people will be able to drive safely for longer.
“Driving, and the independence it brings, is so vital for so many people, and we want to keep everyone on the road, safely, for longer.”
The survey also revealed attitudes about who Scots feel are the best and worst drivers; 17 to 24-year-olds are rated as the worst, with 37 per cent rating them as “poor”. More than a quarter of people (29 per cent) label those aged 65+ as “poor” drivers. Only 23 per cent rate those in the oldest age band as being “good” or “very good”, and surprisingly, only 4 per cent of those aged 65+ rank people of their own age as being “very good” drivers.
The survey, of 1,002 adults in Scotland, revealed that those aged 35-44 and 45-54 are thought to be the best drivers, with nearly 77 per cent of people rating them as “good” or “very good” in each case.
Steve added: “We’d encourage everyone, of any age, to take further driver training, as it will refresh your skills, reassure you of your ability, and enable you to prove to your relatives – and everyone else – just how good a driver you are. You can do this by attending one of our assessment days, booking a RoSPA experienced driver assessment, or joining the RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders network.
“There’s a lot of great work being done in the young and inexperienced-driver arena to help them become safer motorists, so we want to help those aged 65 and over to add to their skill and knowledge base too, and support the self-regulation they already undertake.”
For more on the Life on the Road campaign, see www.LifeOnTheRoad.org.uk. The assessment days are taking place in Aberdeen on Monday February 24, in Edinburgh on Tuesday February 25, and in Glasgow on Wednesday February 26. For more information, or to book, call 0121 248 2099.