On the evening of February 2, a 70-year-old man from Southampton decided to take a drive through the New Forest. After driving around the forest for several hours, he attempted to complete a turn in the road and accidentally reversed down a boat launch, plunging into the water.
He was pulled from the water by nearby residents and taken to the hospital for treatment.
The driver was later diagnosed with vascular dementia, which manifests as confusional episodes. He can appear to be fine one moment and then become confused the next. It is a progressive and deteriorating condition that affects many people each year.
He gave up his driver’s licence.
Sergeant Nick Tucker stated, “We all get older, and our eyesight and some of our abilities deteriorate over time.” We don’t always realise, notice, or know that this is happening to us over time. If you have an elderly relative or friend who drives, talk to them about how they feel about it. Remind and encourage them to have their eyesight checked on a regular basis, and if they have any concerns about their health, have them consult with their doctor about driving.” With the help of this driver and his family, we wanted to highlight this incident to demonstrate the real-life consequences of getting older and driving. He gracefully surrendered his driver’s licence. It’s a good thing he didn’t die that evening.” We collaborate closely with The Older Drivers Forum, whose mission is to keep mature drivers on the road safely for as long as possible. Whether it’s pointing people in the right direction for an assessment to identify their driving needs – from wing mirror adapters to an elevated driving seat – the Forum is here to help and signpost you to the people who can. The Forum is a non-profit organisation comprised of road safety experts ranging from emergency service representatives to charities, local governments, and businesses specialising in keeping older people on the road.
“The key message is to not become complacent about our driving,” said Sergeant Dave Hazlett. We know that many older drivers have a wealth of experience, but as we age, our vision, hearing, reaction times, and speed and distance judgement may not be as sharp as they once were. We frequently develop bad habits that become the norm without even realising it. The Older Drivers Forum can assist you by providing advice on voluntary driving assessments to meet your needs or build confidence.
“Our advice is to not wait until you have a near-miss, or worse, an accident, to reconsider your driving ability or stop driving.” Instead, take preventative measures by planning ahead of time and seeking advice and support as soon as possible.”
If you’re an older driver or worried about a friend or relative who is still driving, the Older Drivers Forum can help.
For more information, please visit their website at https://orlo.uk/qlVip.