Nerve damage in the elderly puts them at a higher risk of losing control of their vehicles.


ELDERLY drivers are more at risk of developing a certain type of nerve damage which could leave drivers unable to control their cars.

Speaking on one of Hampshire Police’s Older Drivers Forum webinars, Professor Dilwyn Marple-Horvat said older road users were more at risk. He claimed at least nine percent of the adult population or 3.8million people could develop diabetes in their lifetime.

He warned at least half of these, mainly those with Type 2 diabetes, could go on to suffer from Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN), a type of nerve damage.

He said at least two million current drivers are likely to be affected by the condition which can have major road risks.

Mr Marple-Horvat added that Type 2 diabetes “tends to develop later in life”.

Of the two million drivers who could be affected, “more of them will be older drivers and less of them will be younger”.

Mr Marple-Horvat those who get DPN would be “impaired” behind the wheel and could “suffer difficulties” on the road.

He warned the illness could leave drivers unable to tell “how hard they were pushing down” on a pedal and leave them unable to “adjust the position of their foot”.

He said: “What are the problems that will be identified for somebody who is driving with this nerve damage in their legs and their feet.

“The problems arise from what the nerves are there for. They normally do two things.


“They take messages from our feet and from your leg to the brain that tells it information in want to know to be able to do things successfully.

“The sense of touch, cutaneous sensation. If something touches your foot, would you be able to feel it?

“Could you feel the pedal when our foot was resting on the accelerator pedal and how hard you were pushing down on it?”

He added: “Proprioception. This is the ability to know where parts of your body are, including your foot… it’s another form of sensory information that begins to degrade due to nerve damage.

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“That’s fairly likely to affect your ability to adjust the position of your foot and in fact how far you push down on the pedal.

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