50 per cent of retired people between the ages of 65 and 74 volunteer* services including befriending, home visiting, and escorting patients to and from hospital. The RAC Foundation is marking Older People’s Day 2008 (today) by highlighting the vital social contribution made by volunteer drivers.
According to the RAC Foundation not only does driving enrich the lives of older individuals themselves,** but it can make an enormous contribution to the wider community and help strengthen family ties.
The mobility of older people enables interaction with younger people, with 25% of families with children under 15 relying on grandparents to help out with the school-run and take kids to after- school clubs. Being able to drive also enables older people to play a more active part in an increasingly dispersed family life.
To celebrate Older People’s Day 2008, the RAC Foundation is calling for the public to recognise the immense benefits to be gained by everyone from enabling people to drive safely in their later years.
Sheila Rainger, RAC Foundation Head of Campaigns says: “The stereotyped ‘little old lady’ behind the wheel is far more likely to be a dynamic local activist keeping the wheels of her community turning.
"For older people, just as for teenagers, a driving licence means freedom, flexibility and independence.
"Keeping older drivers on the road also helps communities benefit from this generation’s time, wealth of experience and willingness to serve.”
* Home Office survey, 2005
** Elizabeth Dainton, RAC Foundation presentation at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, August 2008.