Calls go out to re-test elderly drivers

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Words: Nile Bijoux   |   Photos Sussex Safer Roads
19 Mar 2019

Road safety experts in Australia have renewed calls for better re-assessment of older drivers in light of increasing road fatalities involving those over 75 years old.

Australian figures in the twelve months to February 2019 show that older drivers now account for 12 per cent of all fatalities, despite only making up six per cent of licence holders.

Most Australian states do not have compulsory re-testing for older drivers. New South Wales requires all drivers to undergo a medical assessment each year from the age of 75. From 85 onwards, drivers in NSW must also complete a practical driving assessment every two years.

Here in New Zealand, drivers over 75 made up a similar percentage of the total deaths in the 12 months to December 2018, 43 in total. The same period in 2017 saw 36 deaths in the over-75 category.

While road fatalities as a whole have risen compared to 2017, deaths of those between 25 and 34 dropped from 84 to 69. Road users between 35 and 44 stayed at 37 and those between 45 and 54 dropped from 55 to 39.

However, 2018 saw a rise in fatalities of those 65 onward, compared to 2017. The worst category remains 15 to 24 year olds, which rose from 79 to 88.

The report from Australia calls on governments to do more to encourage better training throughout our driving years, not just at the beginning and the end. The Australian Road Safety Foundation’s Russell White told Australian media that hazard perception training was a major point of focus, saying that elderly driver re-testing is “not necessarily about age, we need to be better at detecting people’s ability to drive as they get older.”

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