06 Crash risk for elderly
ELDERLY drivers cause threequarters of the crashes they’re involved in.
Police are now urging families to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with elderly loved ones about their fitness to drive in the wake of the shock findings.
They coincide with a jump in the number of older drivers disqualified or suspended for medical reasons.
That figure rose 10 per cent last year alone, with about 30,000 older drivers hauled off the roads.
Victoria Police figures show drivers aged 70 and over were found responsible for 1672 of the 2234 crashes they were involved in over the year to September. The proportion was in line with the previous year, but overall crash numbers rose slightly.
Victoria Police spokesman Martin Kay told the Sunday Herald Sun: “It is important for people to understand their limitations and impact of ageing on driving.”
“As part of the ageing process, people may experience a decline in eyesight and hearing, a decline in such skills as the ability to focus on multiple tasks or to judge the speed of vehicles and gaps in traffic or experience a decline in reaction time,’’ he said.
“Sometimes we may have to have uncomfortable conversations with our loved ones about their driving and/or discussions around how to adjust or modify their driving to improve their safety and that of other road users. Self-regulation is important.”
VicRoads data shows drivers aged 71 and over made up 72 per cent of the 40,460 drivers whose licence was suspended or cancelled on medical grounds in the year to June 30.
The number of older drivers ordered off the road has more than doubled since 2011.
“We encourage friends and family to talk to their loved ones if they have concerns about their fitness to drive,” VicRoads acting director James Soo said.
While older drivers were a key cause of their crashes, they were involved in fewer than one in 10 accidents overall. There are almost 530,000 drivers aged over 70 in Victoria. Almost 15,000 are 90 or older.