Driving their own car is important to older people, with nearly 70% of households where someone is over 70 have their own car. In July, the DVLA announced that for the first time, the number of driving licences held by people over 90 had surpassed 100,000. But the numbers who at that age had given up driving, perhaps because of diminishing cognitive skills or poor eyesight, and the numbers who were restricting their driving because they did not want to drive in the dark, in poor weather, on motorways or in the rush hours will have been considerable. Such avoidance behaviour, and especially in areas with poor public transport options, can constrain the social engagement and inclusion of older people, reducing their resilience and independence. There will be a knock-on effect on their sense of wellbeing, which in turn can lead to loneliness and a declining appetite for life, and perhaps on to depression. Continue reading “Driverless cars – the Flourish project”
The Department for Transport (DfT) has just released its much anticipated Accessibility Action Plan (AAP), now open to public consultation. The Plan covers bus, trains, airports, taxis and driving, as well as scooters, cycling and walking, and is partly a response to a House of Lord select committee report on the Equality Act 2010. This found many types of transport fail to meet the basic needs of disabled people despite pre-existing regulations and guidance. Continue reading “Mind the gap: making transport more accessible for older and disabled people”
This report from the Road Safety Foundation was recently published after a comprehensive two-year research project. Its findings are objectively based, and its recommendations are constructive. Above all, it takes the line that for many older people, driving is a key to their remaining socially active and engaged, and we must sustain that, and reject any wild accusations that older drivers are inherently a menace. Continue reading “Supporting Safe Driving into Older Age”
Mobility, as Age UK is constantly arguing, is a key to social engagement and active ageing. Bus travel is getting better in terms of passenger information, but public services funding means bus services are frequently faltering, so using a car is often the only option. The good news is that cars are getting easier to drive, and wholly ‘autonomous’ cars are just over the horizon. Continue reading “Wholly automatic driving”
An important theme for active communities, from Age UK’s Agenda for Later Life 2015 report, is how integrated services can improve the lives of older people. Following this theme, the idea of ‘total transport’ aims to bring together central and local government transport budgets and improve the deployment of buses, hospital transport, school buses and a variety of community transport. It allows vehicles to be shared and coordinated more efficiently, following broader transport objectives. However it isn’t a replacement for adequately funded transport services.
This summer, the industry-wide initiative, Catch the Bus Week will once again roll out across the country. Following the success of last year’s campaign, we at Greener Journeys can’t wait for another fantastic campaign – this time during a glorious summer (we’re sure!). The event will run from 29 June to 5 July, giving the Great British public even more of an incentive to get out of the car and walk to the bus stop. Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to promoting the value of the bus throughout our communities, and during Catch the Bus Week (CTBW), our campaign goes into overdrive as we coordinate activity from the whole bus world to get people out of cars and onto the bus!
But Catch the Bus Week is not just about inspiring people to make sustainable travel choices; it is also an opportunity to celebrate the vital role of the bus in connecting the most vulnerable in society with the community around them. This year, our campaign will highlight the huge social value of the bus by showing that the bus is a community and wellbeing enabler, allowing people to visit their loved ones, go to the shops, or get to volunteering opportunities.
Loneliness amongst older people is a problem all year round. Age UK research found that around one million people aged 65 or over in the UK (10%) say they always or often feel lonely. The bus network in the UK offers a lifeline for older people who may otherwise be isolated from friends, family and the local community, not least because of the concessionary travel scheme that Greener Journeys has campaigned tirelessly to protect. Greener Journeys’ research has found that for every £1 spent in funding concessionary travel, the bus pass generates £2.87 in benefits. It was therefore wonderful to see all of the main parties pledge their support for the bus pass in the run up to the election in May.
With loneliness amongst older people such a pressing issue here in the UK, Catch the Bus Week is the perfect opportunity to get people, young and old, onto the bus, and out into the community. Last year almost 100 bus companies, passenger organisations and local authorities all came together to run events, ticket giveaways and community engagement campaigns across the country. Many MPs also got involved by hopping on a bus and holding their surgeries, tweeting and blogging about #CTBW and speaking about the bus to their local media.
Indeed, Catch the Bus Week is a week in which we celebrate the bus as a vital service, underpinning societies, connecting loved ones and ensuring everyone can get out and about. It is also about galvanising the whole bus community, from bus operators to bus pass holders. So please get involved to make this the best Catch the Bus Week yet! Why not hop on a bus to visit someone you haven’t seen in a while, pick up something tasty from the shop, or help out at a local charity shop!
Also published by Age UK today- ‘Public transport fails the oldest and most vulnerable.’ To find out more about Age UK’s position on transport services for older people, visit our website.
On 26 June, Age UK is supporting a free conference at the Mobility Roadshow looking at how we can improve road safety for older drivers. Joe Oldman, Age UK’s Consumer and Community Policy Advisor, explains the current issues in the older driver debate.
For many of us, continuing to drive as we get older is essential – a car may determine our ability to remain active and independent. The thought of having to give up driving can be distressing, especially in places where alternative forms of transport are limited or non-existent.
Challenging the myths about older drivers
With an increase in older drivers, there is growing concern about the implications for road safety. Media coverage about older drivers and safety can be unhelpful or even insulting – dealing in lazy stereotypes rather than considering the evidence. The vast majority of older drivers, with many years of experience, are often safer than younger drivers. Those drivers aged 75 and over make up 6% of all licence holders, but account for just 4.3% of all deaths and serious injuries on the road. By contrast, drivers aged 16-20 make up just 2.5% of all drivers but 13% of those killed and seriously injured.