Foreword by Sir Sterling Moss
The 2010 RAC Report on Motoring provides a notable insight into the views of motorists and the continuing importance of the car in daily life.
As an 80 year old driver, both on the road, and I am happy to say still on the race track, the topic of elderly motorists is one that I can clearly relate to. The statistics show that although as a group we are less likely to be involved in an accident, we are more likely to be the cause of an accident whether we are caught up in it or not. A sign that our reaction times, eyesight, hearing, perception of speed and distance are not what they once used to be.
As such, I support the idea of tests for the elderly generation. Partly because so many things have changed since we first started driving: road signs have been altered and added to and the density of traffic has risen enormously, especially in the cities. We do not need to give this generation a full driving test again, however, perhaps just a simple competence test every three to five years from the age of 70, to make sure we are still capable.
In New Zealand, they insist on this kind of test every 10 years, no matter your age or ability. It is a good idea - as is the notion that doctors should certify people as safe to drive once they reach 70. This could bring a financial benefit to older drivers - if we as a generation are passed fit to drive by the means described, the levels of accidents within our age group should lessen, reducing the risk to insurers, which could keep premiums down.
The ever increasing cost of driving is a concern for any age group, let alone the elderly motorist.
Electric vehicles are cost effective in terms of the day to day running costs. There are, however, a number of areas that still need to be addressed to make this a truly viable form of alternative transport for the future. Not least of which is the cost of buying an electric vehicle that would replace your current fuel powered car, like for like in terms of performance, practicality and more importantly, range. Of course the technology is being developed, whether it is the weight of the batteries, the ability to hold a charge for longer or a greener way of manufacturing them.
It is also interesting to note that the behaviour of our fellow drivers on the roads is the number one issue at the forefront of motorists' minds this year. As someone who has been driving for over six decades, I have witnessed this particular issue become more prevalent.
The challenges then are for the older generation to show that they competent to drive from a set age, for the automotive industry to make electric powered vehicles a truly viable form of transport and accessible in terms of price and for all motorists to have respect for each other on the road, thus improving the driving experience for everyone.