Are mandatory driver testing laws for seniors over the age of 80 a form of ageism or are they a valid means of protecting everyone on the road?
A senior’s advocacy group in British Columbia is fighting a policy that requires drivers 80 years and older to complete a medical exam before their driver’s licence is renewed. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons representative Bruce Bird, says he believes most seniors are good drivers and those who do lose their licence face becoming housebound.
Young, inexperienced drivers have many restrictions placed upon them. Would it be fair to say that elderly people, who may have hearing, vision and other physical impairments be held to similar limitations?
Some believe a graduated licence for seniors might be a good idea. Restricting driving to daylight hours, zero tolerance for alcohol and avoiding driving in hazardous weather could be compromises that give seniors their independence without becoming a danger to themselves or to others.
According to a recent CBC News report, drivers aged 80 and older are responsible for nearly 70 per cent of the crashes in which they are involved. Elderly drivers are also more likely to be killed or seriously injured in car accidents. The fatality rate for seniors over the age of 65 is larger than any other group, according to the 2012 Transport Canada Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics Report.
Understandably, seniors want to keep their licences and their independence as long as possible. But when does it become a problem? As the elderly population living at home continues to grow, this issue is going to be of greater concern than ever.
It makes sense to do some driver re-training later in life; the road conditions have changed dramatically since older drives first got behind the wheel. Traffic is much heavier and the pace of life is faster.
For information about safe driving in old age and warning signs of unsafe driving visit olderdriversafety.ca . The site also offers safe driving strategies, alternative transportation information, provincial license renewal requirements and a National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in Older Drivers.