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Policy for safer environments for older people

21 March 2012

PACTS has published a major report looking at safe mobility for an ageing population. The report, -“It’s My Choice” looks at all aspects of public and private transport, arguing that we need to promote greater and safer mobility for an ageing society in order to ensure the benefits that independent mobility can bring to quality of life.

The title ‘It’s my choice’ reflects the main theme of the report: helping older people to help themselves, so that they can make better, safer, well-informed choices.

The conclusions and policy do not seek to restrict or impose strict regulation, but rather to encourage and support older people. In the safe systems approach the aim is to design a system where inevitable errors of judgement do not result in death or serious injury. Responsibility for keeping users safe even when they make mistakes is shared amongst the designers, builders and providers of the system. Therefore, in order for older people to be safer, the public  realm, infrastructure for motoring and public transport, and vehicles should all be designed to pose as low a risk as reasonably practicable on older users. Older people  themselves should also be supported and encouraged to keep themselves as safe as  possible, by raising awareness and providing clear, evidence-based information.
 

Despite the myths, the 3.7 million drivers born before World War II are amongst the safest people on our roads. RoadSafe supports the view of The RAC Foundation that forcing them to take compulsory retests will limit their mobility, be hard to police and do little to reduce accidents. This view is supported by a major piece of research by Elizabeth Box, Julie Gandolfi and Kit Mitchell which explores the issues surrounding keeping older drivers on the road in a safe manner.

This view is supported by further research published by The IAM Motoring Trust in January2011 which showed that drivers over 70 are no more likely to cause crashes than any other driver, and are considerably safer than younger drivers.

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