Older drivers thinking more about safety
Mike Guilfoyle, 64, of St. John's, says he's far from ready to give up driving his Pontiac Sunfire, but he knows that in his senior years, he will have his challenges.
Guilfoyle has already been using a cane for walking and relies on his parking permit for disabled blue zone parking spots.
Guilfoyle said he didn't know how he'd get around without his car, and the idea of being told that he would no longer be fit to drive would be upsetting.
However, Guilfoyle acknowledged that aging drivers can be more vulnerable
"When you get older you can make mistakes, you know, when you're driving. God knows, you can accidentally turn the wrong way or not go fast enough."
The potential for mistakes was one of the reasons Henry Cummings, 94, gave up driving 7 or 8 years ago. "I simply stopped driving, because I knew if I had an accident I would be blamed," said Cummings.
Cummings said his wife, 80, does the driving now.
Seniors more vulnerable in collisions
The RCMP and RNC have said that contrary to Guilfoyle and Cummings' worries, people over 65 years old have not been in more automobile collisions than other drivers. However, they said seniors are at a greater risk of injury or death if they become involved in a traffic accident.
RNC Constable Kevin Foley has given frequent talks to groups of seniors about safe driving tips.
At a recent presentation at Kenny's Pond Retirement Home in St. John's, he reminded residents that with winter approaching, driving conditions can become unpredictable.
Foley recommended that older drivers install four winter tires on their vehicles, and keep an eye on weather forecasts, so they can postpone errands or appointments which require driving if stormy weather is coming.
Foley also reminded seniors to check with their pharmacists and doctors to ensure that medications they take are safe to use while driving.
Foley added that it's important for drivers to keep an eye on their states of mind.
"Sometimes, it's [driving] a very emotional thing. But it's a very physical activity," said Foley. "When we're angry, depressed or preoccupied, then that increases our risk of collision."
Older drivers monitoring themselves
To decrease his risk of collision, Guilfoyle said he pays close attention when he drives and he tries to avoid big streets and busy areas.
Meanwhile, Henry Cummings' adult son, Jeff said he's fine with with his father's wife doing the driving for now.
"She's doing quite well," said the younger Cummings. "They don't go far afield, not a lot of night driving. It's convenient that she can drive. She does a few routine things and she enjoys doing it, because it's a bit of independence."
Jeff Cummings added that he trusted his father's wife to volunteer to give up driving if she feels it's neccessary.