Network News Update No.3

Click here to download the 3rd bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.

Highlights this month include:

  • A new fact sheet on Mobility Scooters & Public Transport.
  • EU insurance decision
  • Speed limiters for mobility scooters
  • Smart Motorways & Older Drivers
  • Round-up of our achievements to date

The News Update will be available bi-monthly in addition to occasional networking meetings at a central Kent location.

We will warmly welcome your contributions to the News Updates, we not only want them to create awareness around senior road safety issues for drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users, but to be a catalyst for discussion and action.

Network News Update No. 2

Click here to download the 2nd bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.

Highlights this month include:

  • A new fact sheet on Senior Exercise: Co-ordination & Reactions
  • Statistics – a reactive or proactive approach?
  • ‘NCAP’ autonomous car warning & highway code rule updates
  • Mystery shopping – mobility scooters
  • Senior Road Safety News Headlines
  • The arbitrary age factor
  • Responsibility, knowledge & core skills

The News Update will be available bi-monthly in addition to three networking meetings per year at a central Kent location.

We will warmly welcome your contributions to the News Updates, we not only want them to create awareness around senior road safety issues for drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users, but to be a catalyst for discussion and action.

In The Headlines

Click here to download the full bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.

MOBILITY SCOOTER DEATHS:

The latest official figures are still those of 2016 and 14 fatalities. In a two month late summer period no less than six deaths in Central England alone are to be found on the internet, plus notes of two separate coroners writing to the Minister highlighting concerns and trends.

There can be little doubt the rise from one fatality in 2012 to 14 in 2016 will be reflected again with sharp increases for 2017 and 2018. Despite
many calls for improved legislation and training over the last decade no changes are imminent; everything revolves around moral obligation and voluntary initiatives but at huge cost to those involved in incidents.

DEMENTIA and OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS (Diagnosed or Pre Diagnosis):

A recurring feature of our work has been questions from family and friends worried about drivers whose ability is questionable. In many cases they have taken responsible and far reaching steps to try to mitigate untoward events but nagging doubts remain. ‘Still Safe to Drive’ videos and S.E. Driveability are invaluable sources of help to pass on. The following examples illustrate catastrophe when things go horribly wrong.

M40 DEATH CRASH:

Mid October witnessed three fatalities in a crash on the M40 during daylight hours. A Subaru Forester towing a caravan was travelling South in lane three on the Northbound carriageway and had done so for 5 miles. Dash-cam footage revealed numerous vehicles having to take emergency evasive action prior to the head on crash – the 80 year old driver and passenger of the Subaru and the 30 year old in the other vehicle killed. The Subaru was foreign registered.

Clearly wrong to pre judge circumstance but the Subaru was on the wrong carriageway in lane three whereas you might have expected lane one if mistakenly driving on the wrong side of the road, it had travelled five miles against on-coming traffic, the driver, 80 years old, and been involved in another police attended accident in the run up to this accident. The big question again around age related factors, medical episodes and possible early warning factors.

BUS CRASH FATALITIES – DRIVER DEMENTIA:

In the last edition of ‘news update’ we highlighted the case of a then 75 year old bus driver working 70+ hours weeks; he also had an appalling driving record over the previous 3 years prior to the fatal crash and effectively the bus company failed to act and in the judges words put driver shortage ahead of any other factors. The bus company has now been fined £2.3 MILLION, the driver now subject to a medical supervision order imposed since he was/is now unfit to stand trial.

It is likely this case will have major ramifications. Although not diagnosed with dementia at the time of the accident there had been a catalogue of warnings which were not acted on; also a question about the mandatory annual PCV medical. This case highlights with all the warning signs if a referral had been made to the Midland counterparts of S.E. Driveability a tragedy may well have been avoided; acknowledging pre dementia diagnosis indicators and acting with due diligence are paramount.

Network News Update No. 1

Click here to download the first bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.

The News Update will be available bi-monthly in addition to three networking meetings per year at a central Kent location.

We will warmly welcome your contributions to the News Updates, we not only want them to create awareness around senior road safety issues for drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users, but to be a catalyst for discussion and action.

October 2018 News Update

  • Click here to download a pdf of the full bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.
  • Click here to view the “In The Headlines” news round up.

NETWORK NEWS UPDATE No. 1

OCTOBER 2018 – BI-MONTHLY

WELCOME: Our first bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group and what we hope will become ‘your – the members’ networking newsletter – sharing experiences, knowledge and good practice around improving road safety for ‘seniors’ be they drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users.

As a group we launched on 1st May this year with our ‘one stop’ information web site SRSKent.co.uk, many talks to diverse groups of seniors have already been delivered and well received with more are in the diary.

Our official launch on Wednesday 24th October 2.00pm at the Road Safety Experience, Rochester by kind permission of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Service – open invitation.

The News Update will be available and emailed bi-monthly in addition to three networking meetings per year at a central Kent location. Whilst we will ask you to register with us there is no membership fee, all we ask is for a commitment to improving senior road safety. Subject to space and editors discretion your networking articles will appear for free, as indeed all of our work is voluntary and given for ‘free’; this said donations towards central running costs will be welcomed. We look forward to working with you.

We will warmly welcome your contributions to the News Updates, we not only want them to create awareness around senior road safety issues for drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users, but to be a catalyst for discussion and action whereby if our work prevents any road accident / incident for a ‘Kent Senior’ then our purpose will have been worthwhile – that said the ultimate goal must be ZERO.

SRS KENT OBJECTIVE: For the benefit of readers discovering us (Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group) for the first time our primary objective is: “to create awareness of road safety issues concerning Kent’s older population be they drivers, passengers, pedestrians or mobility scooter users and to address those issues in partnership with other agencies, and thereby reduce the number of accidents overall and furthermore reverse the increases occurring commensurate with the ever expanding population”.

OUR WEBSITE SRSKent.co.uk: features an introductory home page, why there is a need for senior road safety awareness, a series of useful topic facts sheets, all important information pages covering reviews and reports for both ‘seniors’ and ‘professionals’ covering diverse aspects of senior road safety plus links for news and events and news updates – a user friendly site designed as a ‘one stop’ information resource.

SENIOR RISKS: Many studies and statistics released show that older citizens are broadly four times more likely to be involved in a safety related incident in the home or on the roads. With the numbers of older population increasing massively with a similar predicted rise in those affected by dementia; even if the ratios stay the same the numbers actually affected will rise correspondingly. We also recognise that older people do not ‘mend’ so well and in many cases recovery will not be complete; the risk of fatality doubles thereby adding to personal / family cost and to those of the already squeezed NHS and Care Services.

SENIOR PERCEPTION – v – REALITY:  For those who have not reached senior years there is a perception of what senior life entails; for those of us that are seniors we know the reality!  At 74 I do not feel or even believe I act any differently to say at 50! However if I am honest the natural ageing process which affects everybody has set in, overall fit and healthy there are some background medical issues, medication is now part of life but most noticeable is a drop in ‘stamina’ or ‘slowing up’ despite walking two or three miles a day on the dog walk.

Also despite years of extensive driving experience there is the ‘natural ageing process’ versus increasing traffic volumes, increasing traffic management complexity, more technology, more distractions such that at times one gets a feeling of information overload and the sheer task of keeping up to date with things.  What is important is to face up to and accept these challenges and in doing so think about ‘management’ and in doing so secure our independence and mobility safe into old age.

The Older Drivers Forum in Hampshire now into their sixth year have clearly demonstrated how awareness and road safety education for seniors can impact; their accident figures have reduced against a national trend of rising figures despite having the biggest senior population in the Country. Kent must follow suit.

KENT PRESS RELEASE: KCC Road Safety, Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service have issued a joint press release about the distraction danger of using hands free telephones whilst driving; this will perhaps not be so relevant to older drivers as younger counterparts, however, it does highlight the important issues of distraction around the use of technology.

Technology clearly has a part to play in modern life and becomes more advanced year on year. As a generalisation many older people having been bought up in generations without technology may not be so adept at encompassing the use and consequently may be significantly distracted when using the technology, furthermore they may assume the technology can replace the need for their overall observation and control.

There is of course useful technology which works effectively and silently in the background – ABS for example.  Automatic wipers and headlight control there are both pros and cons.  Sat. Navs a useful talking map but no more than that needing to be set before a journey commences and at all times the driver maintaining full observation and being prepared to over-ride any instruction; another similar example is parking assist.

Then there are many other technology options where one has to question any gimmick value rather than usefulness particularly if there is any distraction factor in its use. The question is if over reliance on technology is killing core skills and thereby actually increasing the risk of accident?

I recently heard about a friends visit to a new car showroom whereby the salesman eluded to for 30 minutes all of the technology on the car at the end of which the friend said when he was ready for an invalid carriage he would come back and buy one!

GOING FORWARD:  Whilst on the ‘dog walk’ on country lanes without footpaths – there is no other option in our rural locality, having reached the top of a hill, one was suddenly aware of a very close (the lane is narrow) passing car from ‘behind’. Normally you would hear engine noise of an approaching vehicle but then the penny dropped – it was a large hybrid electric vehicle and absolutely silent.

Clearly the future is going to see huge growth in the electric vehicle market and this must beg the question about rises in accident rates; this will affect all age groups buts perhaps ‘seniors’ will be at greater risk around the many facets of the natural ageing process.  Electric vehicles have of course been with us for close on a hundred years in the form of milk floats, trolley buses and small delivery vehicles but their numbers hitherto have been totally insignificant whereas in the coming decades they are set to become the ‘majority’.

AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS: Many drivers switch to versions of automatic transmission in later life but more often than not will not receive any ‘top up’ tuition to make the change. There are techniques to be mastered and some important safety considerations. One prevalent factor is the non-use of either the parking brake or ‘park’ selection on temporary stopping and as a result there are many instances of runaway vehicles. Last year such an incident with a senior driver at a hospital car park ticket machine resulted in another nearby senior pedestrian being killed.

EXERCISE:  Independence and mobility are critical criteria for older living and there is extensive evidence that keeping fit and taking exercise is fundamental to the old adage ‘use it or lose it’.  In normal exercise such as walking whilst certain muscles get their ‘work out’ other muscles do not see a benefit.  We know many senior accidents result from poor observation and / or poor co-ordination  e.g. as just one example poor neck rotation and looking at road junctions.  Interestingly working with KentARA with some road shows for ‘seniors’ I came across an exercise regime called ‘Elastixs’ which I would absolutely recommend having become a regular participant – at 74 with good health and general fitness I have still benefited.

The reality is any exercise is going to be beneficial to maintaining and improving co-ordination, agility and mobility which are such important factors for getting about safely as a driver, pedestrian or mobility scooter user. More about this subject in the next issue.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS: Dementia currently attracts a lot of focus and rightly so to help those with a diagnosis ‘live well’. However there is the all-important pre-diagnosis phase, and equally there are many other medical conditions where driving, mobility scooter using or even road safety as a pedestrian could be compromised; the important message is instead of fearing the worst there may well be help from for instance organisations like South East Driveability – they understand all medical conditions, they can carry out assessments and most importantly know about all available options to help.

In the Headlines

Click here to download the full bi-monthly Network News Update for Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group.

77 YEAR OLD DEATH CRASH:  Though not in Kent, currently reported in the press the case of a 77 year old Coventry bus driver, working for a national company, who ploughed into a supermarket killing a 7 year old boy and grandmother three years ago. A ‘trial of evidence’ has now taken place in the absence of the driver who had been judged unfit with a diagnosis of dementia to stand trial.

It transpires he had received around 24 warning letters about his driving, there was concern raised by an undercover inspector who said his driving did not meet initial training standards, 4 previous accidents in recent years plus working excessive hours prior to the accident.  The bus company have pleaded guilty to Health and Safety offences.  A sad case by all standards, and shows that ‘self-regulation’ as to fitness to drive has failed, maybe friends / family were not aware or could not intervene, ‘statutory regulation’ and common sense appeared to have failed on the part of the Company.

Comment: This case is one of many high profile cases involving senior drivers that demonstrates vigilance and action is needed by all. No doubt there are many more lesser but nevertheless serious incidents – where age and declining health and ability may be salient factors. There has to be a balance between safety of all road users, drivers or pedestrians and equally important an individual’s independence and mobility.

EYESIGHT – Driver Aged 87 Driving Wrong Way on A3:  Currently DVSA have an eyesight campaign focused on the requirement for drivers to be able to read a number plate at 20 metres; GEM Motoring Assist through their charitable arm ‘Still Safe to Drive’ have organised a petition calling for much stricter eyesight rules for drivers. Three police forces are implementing eyesight checks for all drivers stopped. All of these initiatives stem from growing concerns from incidents occurring with drivers subsequently found to have deficient eyesight for driving.

One recently reported case study featured an 87 year driver driving the wrong way on the A3 causing a police car to take evasive action – in the roadside test the drivers eyesight proved to be well under half of the minimum required standard. The question also arises around mobility scooter users who routinely use public roads but are not subject to any regulations, assessment, health checks including no licensing or compulsory insurance.

CASE STUDY – MOBILITY SCOOTERS: On holiday recently in Yorkshire the regional TV news program Look North featured an editorial about a mobility scooter accident.  An 85 year old lady appearing otherwise as a very fit and healthy lady had been hit by a mobility scooter whilst walking on the pavement suffering leg trauma albeit no broken bones. She had now been immobile since, been treated at hospital a further four times and now has a leg infection; because of her age and an older body’s healing process her chances of full recovery are probably no better than 50/50.

The mobility scooter rider was uninsured and as a result of this there is the probability of a civil claim and the added trauma for all it will bring. Interestingly the editorial went on to show clips of a South Yorkshire Police mobility scooter training initiative run in conjunction with a local mobility scooter retailer.
Comment; with estimated sales of mobility scooters of 80,000 units per year there has and continues to be considerable concern regarding accidents, inappropriate and dangerous use, and lack of regulation.

Launch Meeting October 2018

Senior Road Safety – Kent Focus Group
Inaugural Launch and Presentation

Wednesday 24th October 2018 at 2.15pm
Registration / light refreshments from 1.45pm

Kent and Medway Road Safety Experience
Marconi Way, Rochester, ME1 2XQ.
(Close proximity to M2 and M20 motorways.)

By kind permission of KFRS – Kent and Medway Road Safety Experience.

Main presentation

Rob Heard, Founder ‘The Older Driver’s Forum’ Hampshire –
an innovative project for ‘keeping older motorists on the road
safely for longer’.

Rob is a serving police officer and in 2014 he and the Forum were awarded by ACPO the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Road Safety’ award. Rob is also the national police lead for older driver’s road safety and member of several influential committee’s and advisory groups.

Short Supporting Presentations Relevant to Road Safety

  • Independence and mobility
  • Dementia
  • Mobility Scooters / powered wheelchairs

We have scheduled the presentations to conclude around 4.00pm
following which there will be the opportunity for informal networking,
or alternatively the opportunity to have a conducted tour of the Road
Safety Experience kindly offered by Kent Fire and Rescue Service Staff.

NOTE: This is an open invitation for you, and / or colleagues to attend this inaugural meeting, however we would appreciate if you would confirm if attending.

The Focus Group will meet three times a year at a central location in Kent, there will also be a bi-monthly ‘networking’ newsletter; there is no membership subscription.

New Website Launched

Senior Road Safety Kent Focus Group is proud to announce the launch of its new website.

The site brings together 3 years of research. There is a wealth of practical information for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and mobility scooter users.

Details of upcoming events by the Senior Road Safety Kent Focus Group will be posted on the site.