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RECOGNISE EARLY DANGER SIGNS IN SENIOR DRIVERS, GEM URGES FAMILY MEMBERS

ROAD SAFETY and breakdown cover specialist GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging family members to be wise to the early signs of unsafe driving in their senior relatives.

The call follows the tragic case of Gertrude Lister, the 95-year-old driver who put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake following a visit to her husband’s grave last February. She crashed into a hedge and killed a cemetery worker.

Last week a judge sentenced Mrs Lister to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, and banned her from driving for the rest of her life.

There are more than 100,000 drivers aged over 90 in the UK, and more than 500 centenarians still hold licences.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “We want as many people as possible to enjoy the freedom of the open road for as long as possible, but only while they are safe.

“Warning signs relating to failing health or reduced ability can develop slowly and gradually in older drivers. This often means they won’t be aware of their changing actions or the growing risks they may pose – to themselves and to others - on journeys.

“The only requirement in law for any driver aged over 70 is to declare every three years that they are fit to drive. In the absence of re-testing and mandatory eyesight checks, it’s vital that family members and friends are willing to keep an eye on their senior relatives – and take appropriate action if anything causes them concern.”

GEM suggests the following signs that suggest a high risk of danger with a requirement for immediate action:

‘Close calls’ – or ‘oops factor’ moments where a crash almost happens
Dents and scrapes on the car as a result of hitting fences, posts or kerbs
Traffic penalty tickets, such as speeding and red traffic light violations
GEM also advises family members and friends to look out for the following common signs that could indicate an increase in the risks posed by a senior driver. Most are minor on their own, but can combine to present a significantly increased risk:

Difficulty seeing traffic lights and road signs
Reduced awareness of drivers coming from the side or the rear
Not reacting to an approaching emergency siren
Slow reaction when required to brake or alter direction suddenly
Confusing the accelerator and brake pedals
Erratic decision-making
Getting flustered or angry over minor matters
Difficulty looking over shoulders to check before pulling out
Missing familiar exits or turnings
Drifting in and out of lanes on motorways and dual carriageways
Failing to indicate correctly (or at all)
Failing to cancel an indicator


“If you decide that there is good reason to be concerned about a senior relative, then try to have an informal, friendly chat. If your relative is unwilling to have that conversation, you could attempt to inform their GP, or all else fails, you could report them to the DVLA. You can do this anonymously if you wish,” says Neil Worth.

“Safety has to be everyone’s priority, even if you risk upsetting some close to you. The potential consequences of not acting are ultimately much, much worse.”

GEM’s recently-published resource, Still Safe to Drive, gives a range of practical advice to help senior drivers stay as safe as possible for as long as possible. Take a look at www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk/

Follow GEM on Twitter @MotoringAssist for the latest industry news.

MORE about GEM

GEM Motoring Assist provides two levels of recovery service; Recovery EXTRA and Recovery RECLAIM, to suit all needs and pockets.

GEM provides a unique, comprehensive and competitively-priced Roadside Assistance and Vehicle Recovery Service. GEM has been voted number one for Breakdown Cover in the 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010 and 2008 Auto Express Driver Power Survey, and runners-up in 2012, 2009 and 2016. GEM breakdown cover has also been awarded a 5 star rating by Defaqto, meaning GEM provides one of the highest quality offerings in the market.

GEM Motoring Assist was established in 1932, as an independent driver-based road safety association. GEM's aim is to improve safety for all road users through the sponsorship and initiation of accident prevention measures throughout the UK and to provide motoring and safety information to its own members. Member benefits include a quarterly magazine, free literature and advice and discounts on insurances and other services.

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