On the car insurance blog we have given some attention to the increases car insurance premiums payable by the elderly. Elderly drivers have seen their car insurance premiums increasing significantly as they get older than 65 – and more should be expected from medical doctors and family members in either removing their driving privileges or their need to drive.
On the Arrive Alive Website we have developed a section “Road Safety and the Elderly”, and a visitor commented on this content. We would like to share this email:
“I have just read the extremely informative and well balanced article on elderly drivers. In the mid-seventies my wife and I witnessed the death of a young student (motor cyclist) on Ridge Road,Durban. The driver of the car was an elderly man who walked around, peering over the top of his glasses, saying he did not see him. He did not stop at the stop street!! In court he requested that he may need his licence as he travels all over Natal for the Lawn Bowls association. (Agreed to).
The next incident was my father-in-law who decided he was on his “normal” route home and was crossing an intersection guarded by a 4 way stop. It turned out to be a Traffic Light and Dad intersection and Dad “took out” a full taxi. As a result of this my mother-in-law was left paralysed from the waist down. I negotiated with the SAPS vehicle unit to tell Dad that he was to be charged with Reckless or Negligent driving and would have to appear in Court UNLESS he was prepared to hand in his licence voluntarily. At the age of 85 with a distinguished war medal and a clean working record on the Durban Corporation he could not stand the thought of going to court and having a record. The licence was handed to the SAPS officer who then gave it to me outside the house. They said they had n authority to remove his licence but were quite satisfied that I had it.
The 3rd incident was my own Mother aged 83 and driving a VW Fox which was more than 15 years old. Mom phoned me to say she had just come from the eye specialist as she had a problem with her one eye. He had advised her that she had a stroke and the eye was permanently blind. I asked her if she had stopped driving – no se could still see out of the other eye. The next time we visited the left side of the car had so many bumps and dents you could hardly recognise the car. I the meantime she had gone to have her licence renewed. She passed the test and received her new licence for 5 years ??? I went with her to the eye specialist only to find out that my Mother’s TOTAL vision was 16% and the doctor asked her if she had followed his advice and sold her car. I immediately advertised her car for sale and asked her to give me her licence – she complied but would not speak to me for months.
The underlying factor – should family take this responsibility or should there be a line that can be used requesting a retest of a person. I understand that some people are more competent than others of the same age but, if this is so, why have we set a minimum age for someone to get a licence? (I could drive when I was 14 but never did on a public road). An age,for example 75, should be set for a competency test (not full learners and drivers) to ensure the driver is safe. A further case in point is a friend whose father stays in Howick. He suffered a slight stroke yesterday (89 years old) and then wanted to drive himself to the doctors. The doctor has told him not to drive for a while as he keeps on falling over to his right. My friend is having a hard time stopping her Dad from driving. I recommended that she contact the Traffic Department for assistance. He drives a BIG POWERFUL BMW.
I would like to see Medical Practitioners being held responsible for removal of licences in conjunction with the appropriate authorities.”