ROAD safety is a very relevant subject to all of us and particularly to elderly drivers.
At the Inverloch Probus Club’s June general meeting, the guest speaker subject was Elderly Road Safety presented by Bass Coast Shire Road Safety Program coordinator, John Ernst.
John introduced three specialists in the field of Road Safety; Sergeant Peter Pearce of the Wonthaggi Highway Patrol Group, Chait Takkallapally of Inverloch Pharmacy and Chet Cline, a long-time truckie from Air CTIO.
John first pointed out that we all should be aware that driver quality generally starts deteriorating after the age of 55 and injuries in older people are much more serious and longer lasting than younger drivers/passengers.
He said that statistically drivers over 70 comprise 11 per cent of licenses but comprise 14 per cent of fatalities.
John said it’s very important to plan your trips in advance and where possible to avoid peak times.
Most people would have forgotten 40 per cent of the road rules and there are always new rules to be aware of.
You may think that you are a competent driver but it is important to get feedback from friend and family and to take advice when appropriate.
Sergeant Peter Pearce who’s in charge of Bass Coast Highway Patrol, talked of the many dangers that are on our roads and emphasised that with so many freeways now and ever-increasing traffic, merging into freeways correctly and safely is vitally important.
Ensure that you are up to the traffic speed before merging and that indicators are on.
When preparing to exit a freeway, get into the correct lane well in advance and be aware of the exit speed requirements.
To increase road safety, barriers are continually being erected to stop motorists hitting immovable objects (trees/posts) and more roundabouts are being erected at dangerous intersections.
Be aware that new speed limit laws have been established when any red and blue flashing lights are in evidence and that most police patrol vehicles now have speed radar available so always ensure you drive within the posted speed limits.
Chait Takkallapally of Inverloch Pharmacy talked on the power of medication. Chait advised that the side effects of many medications can make you drowsy and it is important to talk to your pharmacist/doctor about them particularly when starting new medications.
Side effects are usually more prominent when first used and the timing of side effects can stay in the system for different times.
Strong cough mixtures can also cause drowsiness. If you are feeling drowsy, don’t drive. Drowsiness can sneak up on you so always be aware of the medication you take.
If taking several medications always check with your pharmacist/doctor to ensure there is no conflict that could cause driver drowsiness.
Chet Cline has been a long-time truck driver and has seen it all. He emphasised that trucks take longer to slow or to stop suddenly and longer to get back up to speed. They are also much less manoeuvrable and drivers should be aware of this particularly at speed on freeways.
Chet said to keep in mind that these trucks are usually delivering items for your wellbeing so please be courteous to them.
The question and answer session at the end of the talks elicited many fascinating comments and concerns from the Probus members.
John Ernst emphasised that particularly for country residents returning from the city or on driving holidays, always ensure that you have adequate rest breaks.