Tuesday 16 January 2018

There's a strong case for alerting other motorists that you are an elderly driver

The 'exerienced' sign suggestion has opened up a debate. Photo: Getty Images.
The 'exerienced' sign suggestion has opened up a debate. Photo: Getty Images.

A Carlow reader has some suggestions on how to deal with the issue of elderly drivers on our roads, including a blinking green light on the roof.


I have just read your Motoring supplement in yesterday's Independent (January 22). Congratulations on continuing to provide varied and useful motoring information.

I am writing to you about your article regarding older folk and whether or not we should identify them on the road by some means of "experienced" sign on the window.

I agree that as a driver – and I have one particular individual in mind – vast experience can enable reduced reactions to be more than adequately compensated for by well-honed observation skills.

However, there comes at time when the mental ageing becomes an issue that cannot be glossed over.

There can be a marked reduction in general ability to observe and process the changing road landscape in the timescales necessary to take action.

This can be particularly noticeable in urban areas or when there is any reduction in visibility.

An elderly driver can be physically competent and smooth at starting, stopping, gear changing etc but general observation and road positioning can deteriorate alarmingly.

Yet, as of now, such a driver is 100pc road legal with a valid licence; the insurance company has no grounds to refuse cover.

There are two possible ways of dealing with the issue:

One would have ALL high-risk drivers taking a mandatory assessment every five years or so.

The second would be limited to elderly drivers who could be identified by an specific sign carried like an L-plate.

My solution is a little more visual. What about a blinking green light on the roof?

It would be more obvious and effective.

It could be incentivised by insurance companies as it surely would reduce risk somewhat.

Bearing in mind that there are many elderly people still driving now close to their 90s or maybe even beyond, there has to be a point in time where the risk becomes unacceptable. How to deal with it sensibly and sensitively is the challenge.


Carlow reader



Can I give you details of dangerous/stupid behaviour I witnessed at roundabouts in the Tullamore area recently.

1. A female motorist pulled up taking a phone call on the grass verge of the Clonminch roundabout, if she continued another 50 metres she would be on the hard shoulder off the roundabout.

2. A male driver taking a phone call between the Clara Road and Axis roundabouts, causing motorists to swerve out into the path of on coming traffic. The road is narrow here, so why not pull into the Axis premises a short distance away?

3. Just today on the Henry Street roundabout, a female motorist was having a chat with a friend, oblivious to traffic piling up behind them. Surely you can't stop on a roundabout?


Killeigh, Co Offaly

Irish Independent

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