Saturday 29 January 2011
Pensioners See Too Much
There is an increasing number of older drivers on the roads. My generation will be the first to have owned a car for their entire adult lives and we are even less likely to give up driving than our parents' generation, because we view our cars as an essential part of our independence.
When younger I always said when I stopped enjoying driving I'd stop driving. Some years ago now I stopped enjoying driving, although when I returned to live in Scotland I found some enjoyment return, possibly because there was much less traffic and I didn't spend so much time in traffic jams.
To put it simply I need my car. There is no suitable public transport and to travel by taxi would be out of the question.
However, in recent years I haven't had the need to drive so much and I slowly realised I wasn't as comfortable driving at night as I once was. Nothing serious I was assured, it's because few older people have the need to drive regularly in the dark so don't do it. It's all down to 'practice makes perfect' my sympathetic optician said.
Last year one friend suddenly stated she was giving up her car. We were shocked because she was the one who always offered lifts to others when we had our regular outings. One of her regular passengers tentatively asked if it was the cost of maintaining a car that had brought about this decision. No, it was because she nearly hit a 4 x 4 in Morrison's car park. Discussion followed about how driving has changed in 40 years; the power of modern cars and being older does tend to make you feel slightly less able. We all agreed that it must be something to do with eyesight, even though all of us could read a numberplate at the required distance.
Last night I sent a copy of this to my friend (I know her car is still in her garage and she uses it occasionally). She'll be surprised it's nothing to do with failing eyesight whatsoever, but that we see too much. We're too aware of background rather than reduced vision. It makes sense.
I wonder when the perceptual learning classes will begin in the UK? Must drop an email to Professor Duje Tadin at the University of Rochester and ask him to send a copy of his study to Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's go-ahead Health Secretary.
A word of warning to those who are irritated by older drivers - we see you. It's now a proven scientific fact.