Testing times ahead for older drivers

ALL drivers have at one time or another been caught behind an elderly motorist seemingly with no clue where they’re going nor a desire to get there any time soon.

We’ve all laughed at stories of pensioners popping to the shops only to end up hundreds of miles from home and gasped at tales of the likes of 82-year-old Sam Campbell, who walked away unscathed after careering over an embankment into the reception of Danderhall Leisure Centre last November.

More and more elderly drivers are climbing behind the wheel each year, with more than one million drivers over the age of 80 on the roads in UK.

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Now there are calls for pensioners to undertake refresher driving courses to sharpen their skills, however, the government advice is that a police officer, a GP or a relative would have to recommend they sign up for such a programme.

Road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists has welcomed the proposal. Neil Greig, its director of policy and research, said: “Older drivers should view refresher courses as a check-up and not a penalty. I’m very much in favour of this proposal. Rather than prevent elderly motorists from driving we should look to make them aware of the risks they face on our roads.”

So it seems rather than showing older drivers a permanent red light, they should be made to pause at amber before being allowed to progress to green.

But how do you think you’d do if you had to resit your test? Try out ten theory test questions, as supplied Driving Standards Agency, which would-be drivers currently have to answer.


1) Accidents (handling)

You arrive at the scene of a motorcycle accident. The rider is injured. When should the helmet be removed?

A. Only when it is essential

B. Always straight away

C. Only when the motorcyclist asks

D. Always, unless they are in shock

2) Rules of the road

What is the nearest you may park to a junction?

A. 10 metres (32 feet)

B. 12 metres (39 feet)

C. 15 metres (49 feet)

D. 20 metres (66 feet)

3) Safety and your vehicle/motorcycle (environment)

Before starting a journey it is wise to plan your route. How can you do this?

A. Look at a map

B. Contact your local garage

C. Look in your vehicle handbook

D. Check your vehicle registration document

4) Road and traffic signs

In some narrow residential streets you may find a speed limit of?

A. 20mph

B. 25mph

C. 35mph

D. 40mph

5) Vulnerable road users

You see a pedestrian with a dog. The dog has a yellow or burgundy coat. This especially warns you that the pedestrian is:

A. Elderly

B. Dog training

C. Colour blind

D. Deaf

6) Alertness

Your mobile phone rings while you are travelling. You should:

A. Stop immediately

B. Answer it immediately

C. Pull up in a suitable place

D. Pull up at the nearest kerb

7) Attitude

‘Tailgating’ means:

A. Using the rear door of a hatchback car

B. Reversing into a parking space

C. Following another vehicle too closely

D. Driving with rear fog lights on

8) Safety and your vehicle/motorcycle (environment)

‘Red routes’ in major cities have been introduced to:

A. Raise the speed limits

B. Help the traffic flow

C. Provide better parking

D. Allow lorries to load more freely

9) Hazard awareness (impairment)

A driver pulls out of a side road in front of you. You have to brake hard.

A. You should ignore the error and stay calm

B. Flash your lights to show your annoyance

C. Sound your horn to show your annoyance

D. Overtake as soon as possible

10) Vulnerable Road Users

You are turning left into a side road. What hazards should you be especially aware of?

A. One-way street

B. Pedestrians

C. Traffic congestion

D. Parked vehicles

1) A. If a motorcyclist has been injured in an accident, it’s important not to remove their helmet unless it is necessary to do so to keep them alive.

2) A. Don’t park within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction (unless in an authorised parking place). This is to allow drivers emerging from, or turning into, the junction a clear view of the road they are joining. It also allows them to see hazards such as pedestrians or cyclists at the junction.

3) A. Planning your journey before you set out can help to make it much easier, more pleasant and ease traffic congestion. Look at a map to help you to do this. You may need different scale maps depending on where and how far you’re going. Printing or writing out the route can also help.

4) A. In some built-up areas, you may find the speed limit reduced to 20mph. Driving at a slower speed will help give you the time and space to see and deal safely with hazards such as pedestrians and parked cars.

5) D. Take extra care as the pedestrian may not be aware of vehicles approaching.

6) C. Always use the safe option. It is not worth taking the risk of endangering other road users. If you need to use a mobile phone, make sure that you pull up in a safe and convenient place that does not obstruct other road users. Using a message service will enable you to complete your journey without interruptions and you can catch up with your calls when you take your rest breaks.

7) C. Tailgating is used to describe this dangerous practice, often seen in fast-moving traffic and on motorways. Following the vehicle in front too closely is dangerous because it restricts your view of the road ahead and leaves you no safety margin if the vehicle in front slows down or stops suddenly.

8) B. Traffic jams today are often caused by the volume of traffic. However, inconsiderate parking can lead to the closure of an inside lane or traffic having to wait for oncoming vehicles. Driving slowly in traffic increases fuel consumption and causes a build-up of exhaust fumes.

9) A. Where there are a number of side roads, be alert. Be especially careful if there are a lot of parked vehicles because they can make it more difficult for drivers emerging to see you. Try to be tolerant if a vehicle does emerge and you have to brake quickly. Don’t react aggressively.

10) B. Make sure that you have reduced your speed and are in the correct gear for the turn. Look into the road before you turn and always give way to any pedestrians who are crossing.