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Police urge elderly motorists to ensure they are still fit to drive

Essex Police has issued a warning to elderly drivers to ensure they are fit to drive, following an increase in the number of accidents involving people over 70.

Essex Police want elderly people to ensure they're safe to drive. Credit: ITV Anglia.

They say poor eyesight and underlying medical conditions such as dementia are driving the problem, as is an ageing population.

Young drivers and motorcyclists used to be an area of concern to police, but now elderly drivers have also been put in this bracket.

Laurence Nichols, 73, is a retired bus driver and thinks the stereotype is unfair.

Laurence believe older drivers are safer on the road. Credit: ITV News.

I think older drivers are safer, they're much more aware of their surroundings, they're aware of their own abilities and they are more patient than a lot of other drivers on the road, they also don't have anything to achieve, they don't have to show their peers they're any better, the majority of older drivers are very good.

– Laurence Nichols, 'IAM RoadSmart'

But Essex Police argue that the statistics prove that although they use the roads less they are becoming more of a risk.

For example, between 2014-16 drivers aged 70 and over accounted for just seven per cent of miles travelled but were involved in more than twelve per cent of incidents where somebody was killed or seriously injured.

We're really concerned about older drivers, they're a small road user group but actually becoming more of a risk and we're noticing a number of relatives contacting us about their mum or dad, they're concerned about their driving, we're picking up more and more concerns about eyesight issues The decision to stop driving due to ageing health can be difficult due to the loss of independence from not having a car to drive.However the repercussions of an avoidable collision can be huge and range from personal injury to the driver to loss of an innocent member of the public

– Adam Pipe, Essex Police, Casualty Reduction Manager

The police are asking anyone who may be concerned about their ability to drive, or a relative's ability to drive to contact them and they can then arrange a health assessment.

Road charity ROSPA say if someone realises their driving ability is changing there are a number of steps they can take to ensure they are still safe - something called 'self-regulation'. It might mean avoiding driving at certain times, or in certain situations. For example:

  • at night
  • during the rush hours
  • through large, busy junctions or roundabouts
  • on certain types of road (for example, motorways)

For more information on staying safe on the roads click here.