Brian Mellor was very pleased yesterday to pass his IAM Fellow test, having been an IAM member for many years and deciding to demonstrate he still had all the necessary skills. Brian’s examiner praised “a really good quality drive” where “links between Observation, Anticipation and Planning were showcased brilliantly”. Hearty congratulations to Brian from all of us at GAM, proving you can still make the grade after all those years of IAM membership. Same again in three year’s time, so keep up those skills!
NIgel Staton put in an excellent performance last Wednesday to pass his Advanced Test. His examiner said “it was a great drive he should be proud of”. Well done Nigel for all your hard work and some really good comments on your test. Congratulations from all at GAM.
Spotting the signs of a loved one’s driving deteriorating as they get older can be difficult. At what point should you tackle the issue and suggest it might be time for them to stop? As part of its older drivers’ campaign, raising awareness of the issues faced by many thousands of mature drivers across the UK, IAM RoadSmart’s head of technical policy and advice, Tim Shallcross, has put together some top tips based on his own experiences.
- Try to have a conversation about it sooner rather than later; it’s a very good idea to raise the subject while there’s nothing wrong with their driving – “How will you feel if eventually you have to give up driving? How would it affect you?” for example.
- Take the opportunity from time to time to be a passenger with them to see how their driving is – and look out for any changes over time.
- Signs of deteriorating driving include looking but not seeing at junctions, reduced ability to judge speeds, poor reversing – and dents on the car. For more signs to look out for, see IAM RoadSmart’s short video here.
- Even if you do have concerns, your relative might well be able to carry on driving safely for many years with a little tuition and guidance. Point out that as we age, the risks associated with driving change and that it might be good to get an independent view such as a Mature Driver Review. Stress that it is not about giving up driving, just reducing the risks.
- Remember how much of a life changer this could be – imagine what it would be like for you if you suddenly had to give up driving. The impact might well be greater for your relative than for you if they can’t walk or cycle easily. Be sympathetic but firm if you are sure their driving is below standard.
- Don’t have a large family discussion – your relative may well feel everyone is ganging up on them. One to one is best, two at most.
- Stick to the facts. Have there been near misses you are aware of? Don’t condemn the driving outright, talk instead about safety for them and others.
- Identify beforehand the pressures that keep him or her driving – does their partner or spouse drive? How far away are essential amenities? What alternatives are there?
- If necessary, introduce the idea of internet shopping and other online services that are available.
- Know when to stop and try another day. It’s pointless getting into an argument where tempers get frayed. Leave your relative to think about it for a while and often they will realise that what you’re suggesting makes sense.
There are a number of resources available to help older drivers stay safe on the road for longer, and also on how to make the decision to stop driving when the time is right. Apart from IAM RoadSmart’s advice here, Age UK and the Older Drivers’ Forum also offer guidance.
Congratulations to Amanda Lees who passed her advanced test last Sunday. Her examiner made some very positive comments about her drive – ” a very safe and experienced driver”. Well done Amanda – many congratulations from all of us at GAM – another excellent result.
Diane Wilson put in a sparkling performance a few days ago to pass her advanced test with flying colours and a F1rst. Her examiner said “A really well-planned systematic drive, and a really well deserved F1RST; ‘Masters’ next “. Well done Diane from all at GAM – terrific result.
As part of the IAM’s campaign to raise awareness of the issues surrounding older drivers in the UK and to offer support and guidance to those driving in later life, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, shares his tips on ways to stay alert and avoid tiredness.
- Older people can be more susceptible to fatigue so tiredness can prove a real problem. Extreme tiredness can lead to micro-sleeps, whatever your age. This is a short episode of drowsiness or sleep that could last a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds. A car driving at 70 mph will travel 31 metres per second, giving plenty of time to cause a serious crash during a micro-sleep.
- The effects of regularly losing one or two hours of sleep a night can lead to chronic sleepiness over time. So, ensure you are well rested and feeling fit and healthy before you set off.
- Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey, especially when driving on a long, boring stretch of motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours and it’s essential to take a break before the drowsiness sets in.
- If necessary, plan an overnight stop. If you feel too fatigued to carry on driving, then book yourself into a hotel at the next service area and sleep it off. Wake up fresh with a good breakfast and carry on your journey. It’s good to note that a caffeine “high” may be a quick fix, but it’s not a long-term solution and certainly no substitute for proper sleep.
- Older people can get tired quickly, even when they haven’t been physically exerting themselves for long periods of time. So avoid setting out on a long drive near the end of the day. It’s best to start your journey earlier, when you’re more alert.
- If possible, avoid driving between the two peak times for sleepiness. These are between 3am and 5am and between 2pm and 4pm.
- If you’ve taken prescribed medication, then seek advice from your GP as to whether you should be driving or not. If bought over the counter, then read the instructions on the pack or speak to a pharmacist.
Richard says: “Whatever your age, you need regular sleep to perform at your highest level. Driving requires full concentration at all times, and if you’re tired your ability to concentrate is reduced. Internal body clocks (circadian rhythms) are usually set to deal with normal lifestyle patterns, so extra care needs to be taken when you’re driving during a time you would normally be at rest. Stop, rehydrate and rest if you need to. This is particularly true for those who are driving in later life, but the rule applies to all.”