Lifestyle |

Your Driving Future

October 11, 2019
photo of a car driving on the road by the water

By Robyn Elkojje, Be State Manager Transport.

What do people do when they’re faced with surrendering their licence?

Recently, I had a fall which resulted in a torn rotator cuff, a very painful and inconvenient experience. As a result of my injury, I found myself relying on my husband to help me do things that I have done most of my life, such as washing my hair (getting my hair washed by a man who hasn’t had hair for nearly two decades was an interesting experience. I was confused by his lack of knowledge but I was very appreciative). The other obstacle I was facing was the inability to drive. I had to rely on family and friends to get me to work and to medical appointments.

Having been driving all my adult life, and finding myself relying on others to get me places was really difficult for me. The support was great but I couldn’t help feeling like a burden. This started me thinking about ageing people and what preparation they may have had before they found themselves without a licence.

Currently, The Department of Transport and Main Road makes drivers get a medical certificate if they want to keep their licence once they turn 75 years of age. Older drivers need to go back to a doctor every 13 months to get the certificate renewed, but doctors who want more regular checks can issue a certificate for a shorter period. Also, Queensland doctors have the power to immediately suspend a person’s licence if they feel they pose an immediate threat on the roads.

Why wait until your licence is suspended before you start looking at transport options so you can continue to participate in the community? It may be prudent to consider options available to you for your future transport needs while you’re still able to drive until you find yourself suddenly grounded or have the decision made for you. Give yourself a ten year plan, be prepared and learn about your local area services.

There are many options that you can choose to investigate for your future while you’re still driving. Look into what public transport options are available in your area and replace one of your trips with public transport. Use a bus instead to go to your local shopping centre. Browse the internet to read up on service providers that meet your values and have the services of choice.

If you find yourself, or know of a loved one who is starting to show some of the warning signs below of unsafe driving, you should talk to your/their doctor. Some warning signs of unsafe driving are:

  • Frequent close calls (i.e., almost crashing), dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs.
  • Increased citations, traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers.
  • Trouble with the fundamentals of driving such as making sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, and braking or accelerating suddenly without reason. Other examples include failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes.
  • Eyesight problems like not seeing traffic lights and street signs, or having to drive closer and closer to them to see them clearly.
  • Hearing problems such as not hearing emergency sirens or horns honking.
  • Problems with memory including missing exits that used to be second nature or getting lost frequently. While everyone has occasional lapses, if there’s an increasing pattern, it’s time to get evaluated by a doctor.
  • Problems with reflexes and range of motion such as not reacting quickly enough if there’s a need to brake suddenly or quickly look back, confusing the accelerator and brake pedals, getting flustered while driving, or being quick to anger when behind the wheel.

Just because we age, it doesn’t automatically mean we’ll lose all driving ability. If we take the time to plan and set the foundations early, it will ease the transition and give you time to adjust. It’s important to know that there are many options available, including community transport, to help you remain connected. If you are thinking of surrendering your licence because of your age or health and don’t know where to start, you are not alone. Just contact Be and we will guide you through the process.

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