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Roundabouts could replace T-junctions to make roads safer for older drivers

20th July 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The Older Drivers Task Force has recommended that roads should be improved to be more user-friendly for mature motorists, following a report.

Driving remains a useful skill well into our later years, and while at home rise and recline chairs can make it easier to move around with ease, out on the open road more could be done to keep pensioners and other road users safe on the highway.

Now the Older Drivers Task Force, an area of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents dedicated to supporting safe driving in later life, has called on the government to ensure that the policies around roads in the UK better accommodate the country’s ageing population in its recent report.

In the report, Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age, leading road safety experts have put forward recommendations that aim to make roads safer for older drivers. These include introducing compulsory eye tests for motorists over the age of 60, which would support raising the age of mandatory fitness to drive tests when renewing licences from the current 70 years of age threshold to 75 years old. More significantly, the report has advised that T-junctions should be replaced, suggesting that people over the age of 75 are twice as likely as younger drivers to be involved in accidents when negotiating them.

Instead, the Older Drivers Task Force suggests that replacing T-junctions in favour of roundabouts would make roads safer for older drivers. The report concludes: “Given that the percentage of serious accidents at T-junctions increases significantly with age after 65 and that this does not happen at roundabouts, it would be worth studying the value of installing mini-roundabouts at busy T-junctions with little or no change to the kerb lines.”

The report details further changes to our highways as part of a move to introduce an improved national strategy for older drivers. In addition, it implies that roads could be made safer for mature motorists by applying wider white lines in the centre of carriageways and establishing better use of segregated slip roads on motorways. Larger lettering should be used on road signs and markings and to keep all road users safe, more traffic lights could be placed at crossroad junctions.

Driving into our later years is an important aspect of staying mobile and leading an independent life for longer. With the number of drivers over the age of 70 expected to increase from 4.7 million to 8.5 million in the next two decades, the Older Drivers Task Force chairman John Plowman explains:

“This influx of older drivers has important economic and social value but it also presents road safety risks if we don’t adapt. Getting to grips with these risks, without limiting the independence and freedoms of the elderly is an important policy challenge.”

Image Credit: Marty Portier (wikimedia.org)