Because life expectancy is on the increase, and medical science has allowed people to live active lives until much later, we are never far away from an article telling us that “60 is the new 40!”. Given that anyone of a certain age remembers a time when we were certain that life began at 40, this will probably have left many 50-year-olds confused. Did life begin ten years ago? Do we still have ten years to go before it actually begins? So many questions.
If being in one’s fifties is young enough to still have these questions, then it’s fair to wonder why so much of society’s gaze still considers quinquagenarians to be “past it” in some way or other. For example, passing the milestone of a half-century on this earth does mean that you need to pay higher premiums on car insurance, which feels harsh. For reference, someone who is fifty years old was born in 1970. That means they reached adulthood in 1988, and that they were not yet in their 20s when the Berlin Wall fell. It’s hard not to feel insulted by the idea that we should be paying more in our fifties – so what are the facts about driving once you’ve passed this milestone, and do they back any increase in premiums?
As you pass fifty, your eyesight is liable to get worse
It’s true that medical science is allowing people to live longer active lives, but the advances made aren’t happening all at once, which means that your healthier body is still home to eyes that are just starting to be an irritation. Some age-related macular degeneration is almost inevitable in your sixth decade; it doesn’t mean you won’t notice other cars on the road, but you may miss the odd roadsign. All the more reason when you Click & Collect your next car from the dealership that you should ensure it has sat nav enabled. Navigation can tighten up your driving where the senses may be letting you down, and you should also make sure you wear glasses to drive anywhere.
You’re less likely to be involved in an accident as you get older
Car accidents happen for a number of reasons, but it’s a fact that certain risk factors make them more likely and more severe. One of these is night-time driving; people behind the wheel at this time are more likely to be tired; there is a greater chance of people driving under the influence; and, ironically, clearer roads allow people to pick up speed, making evasive action less effective. It’s also a time of day when drivers over 50 are less likely to be on the road, meaning you’re less likely to be caught up in a serious accident that wasn’t your fault.
You can relearn at any time, though you don’t have to
It has been suggested that one way to ensure better drivers on the road would be to have mandatory retesting at certain stages for licence holders. This, it seems, would hardly be a bad idea – at the moment you can get your licence at 17 and then, as long as you’re never banned from driving, set about unlearning the good habits that allowed you to pass. You can book refresher lessons whenever you want to, and they do give the significant benefit of giving you a better grasp of road rules that were implemented after you passed your test. They’re by no means obligatory, but can help you make the case for lower insurance costs as you age.
It’s always important to drive safely, and keeping the above in mind will help you stay safe – and look out for others – on the road.