The eyes have it. Why it's important to check ourselves more than our cars
Eddie Cunningham: mature drivers may know more but are they overlooking vital areas?
Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30
A recent survey shows that older drivers know more about how to fix things in their cars than their younger counterparts.
It was quite an extensive survey by GoCompare.
It heavily contrasted the capabilities of the more mature driver with those of more recent vintage.
Which is fine as far as it goes and I'll give you the details in a minute.
But it got me wondering and asking if older drivers are as good as their younger road-users in one particular area: Is their eyesight as good? And how often do they get it checked?
I know I'm risking the wrath of many by asking but I speak here as one who has offended badly - until recently.
Believe it or not I let 16 years drift between my eye tests - until this year. Yes, it's a disgrace. I freely admit that. I also wonder how many other drivers there are like me.
Remarkably, and luckily, my sight had not deteriorated even one per cent in the intervening years.
The people in Specsavers were amazed. They double checked and double checked.
No, I hadn't had a check up. And I didn't need a major upgrade. I was, for once, a rarity. Yet my case is not to be taken as a reason for complacency. Having good sight, whether natural or enhanced, is far more important than being able to change an old wheel or tyre, laudable and all as the latter feats may be.
This is not a plug by any means for Specsavers or any others. I don't care where you go but if you are driving a car you need to make sure all aspects of your driving are in top order. And that includes your sight. It is the least you owe yourself and other road users. Enough said. Back to the survey.
• It found the over-55s were nearly three times more likely to know how to change a wheel than a young driver.
• Nearly two-thirds of all motorists (61pc) admitted they can't change a headlight bulb.
• Older drivers were almost three times as likely to be able to 'jump start' a car with a battery.
• And 43pc of young drivers - those aged between 18 and 24 - would call their parents if something went wrong with their car.
The insurance group concluded that younger motorists in particular "lack the confidence to perform basic car maintenance tasks such as changing a flat tyre or jump starting a car battery".
They added: "And what's more, simple car maintenance skills look set to disappear with the Baby Boomers as the research revealed that young drivers are far less likely to be able to carry out straightforward tasks."
The younger ones did, however, feel quite confident of topping up screen wash and checking oil levels.
But one of the more chilling findings was that 48pc revealed they didn't know the meaning of all of their car's dashboard warning lights.
The level of benign ignorance is, I think, partially explained by the subsequent finding that almost a quarter (24pc) believe having breakdown cover means they don't need to learn how to maintain their vehicle.
However, I think the main reason for the 'superior performance' of mature drivers emerges further down.
It may well be that they are twice as likely to have read the car's manual, the study suggests.
Only a quarter (25pc) of 18-to-24 year olds read the manual - in contrast with more than half (53pc) of those aged 55 and over who took the time to read the manual.
Which, I hope, shows that half of them have good eyesight or are at least equipped with up-to-date prescription spectacles.
Like keeping the car in roadworthy condition, keeping ourselves fit to drive is vital too.