Findings give hope that people can drive safely in old age

Morning View
Morning View

Of all the many advances made by mankind in the last century, the increase in human longevity is perhaps the most significant and exciting.

Far fewer people die in infancy than they once did and those who do make it to adulthood are now much more likely to reach a very old age than before.

This revolution in science and healthcare has posed its own problems, such as pension provision and an increase in the number of people affected by conditions such as dementia.

But it has overwhelmingly been a change for the positive.

Not so long ago people retired from full-time work typically at the age of 65, if they even lived that long, and would not expect to live much beyond that and the three score years and ten referred to in the Bible.

Now many people from all social classes are living beyond that, and often decades beyond that.

And many of those people are not merely existing in their twilight years, but living fulfilled and busy lives if their general health holds.

Being able to continue to drive a car is often at the heart of the freedom and independence enjoyed by such old people.

It is significant therefore that research by Swansea University’s Centre for Innovative Ageing has found that older drivers are no more dangerous than other motorists.

Indeed, young males aged 17 to 21 are up to four times more likely to crash than adults over the age of 70.

There has been previous research that has suggested that very old drivers, of 85 and above, have a higher fatality rate than most drivers but even then it was found to be notably lower than the most dangerous categories of younger drivers.

The Swansea research points out that such rates are partly due to the fact that older people are less able to withstand injuries.

This is exciting news for all society, and gives people hope that they too can hope to have a long life of independence, assisted by access to their car.