06 Crash risk for el­derly

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - SOFIA VAMVAKIDOU

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.

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