Older drivers will go to the grave with car keys in hand: poll

Older drivers prepared to drive until they die, and say they are not the problem.

Older drivers will go to the grave with car keys in hand: poll

Driving a car is an important part of life for millions of us, and just because we stop working doesn’t mean we need our cars less. Driving provides freedom and independence, but for any age group – not just seniors – it also involves risk.

While experienced drivers are obviously safer than those with less experience, as we age, our eyesight, general health and reaction times may decline, possibly making driving a little less safe.

And although age-related conditions can eventually negatively affect our driving, it doesn’t mean age alone will force you to hang up your keys.

Being unsafe on the roads is not necessarily an age-related issue – just ask our members, who told us there isn't an age at which we automatically become unsafe drivers.

But as stoic as older drivers can be, there may come a time when we should spend less time on the road or quit driving altogether.

To that end, we conducted a Friday Flash Poll: Should you really still be driving to find out how you feel about compulsory testing and whether or not you thought you’d have to get out from behind the wheel any time soon.

Our poll had 1674 respondents, eight per cent of whom were aged 60-64, 26 per cent 65-69, 30 per cent 70-74, 21 per cent 75-79 and eight per cent 80-84.

We learnt that 99 per cent of respondents are still driving, with 26 per cent driving 50 kilometres or less each week, 29 per cent 51-100 kilometres and 28 per cent behind the wheel for between 101 and 200 kilometres per week. Just 17 per cent drive more than 200 kilometres. In the last two years, 94 per cent said they had not been involved in a road accident.

While 51 per cent do not avoid any driving conditions, 24 per cent avoid driving at night, 12 per cent stay off the roads in bad weather, five per cent avoid long trips and four per cent stay out of heavy traffic.

When asked if losing the ability to drive would be an issue, 39 per cent said it would be a very serious problem, 27 per cent said it would be somewhat serious and 24 per cent said it would be a moderate problem. Only eight per cent said it would be a minor problem and for three per cent, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

“Mobility is crucial to the independence and quality of life of older people. It is far cheaper to assist older people to continue an independent life in their own home. The needs of older people should be taken into account in town planning and transport policy,” wrote YourLifeChoices member LJ.

Most people agree that an annual driving assessment should be mandatory (70 per cent), with 29 per cent saying that should take place from the age of 80 and 25 per cent saying it should be once you turn 75.

Research shows that crash patterns change significantly for drivers over the age of 80, with most accidents occurring due to misjudgement. As a result, annual tests and doctors’ assessments are obligatory in most states and territories.

In New South Wales, holders of car licences must have a medical test before they turn 75. Once they reach 85, they must choose between an unrestricted licence or a modified licence. The ‘home-to-town condition’ applied to a modified licence means drivers can travel only in a limited area in which they are familiar. If a driver chooses the unrestricted option, they must undertake a practical driving assessment each year.

In Victoria, you don’t have to do a test, but once you’re over 75, your licence is valid for three years instead of 10.

Once you turn 80 in Western Australia, you’ll need to have a medical assessment to renew your licence. Driving tests for over 85s are only required on doctor’s advice.

Everyone over the age of 75 in Queensland needs an annual signed doctor’s form to continue driving and in the ACT, drivers aged 75 or older need an annual doctor’s examination to renew their licence.

South Australian drivers with no medical conditions require an annual DIY assessment from the age of 75. Anyone with a medical condition or impairment needs an annual doctor’s assessment.

In the Northern Territory, you need to notify the Motor Vehicle Registry of any medical conditions you have that may affect your driving ability. Tasmanian drivers over the age of 75 require an annual medical assessment and a possible driving test.

While most agree that compulsory tests over a certain age are a good idea, YourLifeChoices member GingerMeggs says some younger drivers could also do with the odd assessment.

“Young drivers who have a bad driving record or crash record should be forced to spend a day or more doing advanced driver training to learn some decent driver skills and knowledge of the road rules – at their personal expense as part of the court order against them, or as a way to reduce the restrictions imposed on them by loss of driver points. If the law makers open their eyes they can see this would be a real help and provide some more jobs for the road safety industry,” he wrote.

While 27 per cent of respondents say they expect to stop driving once they’re over 85, 23 per cent say over 80 and 12 per cent say over 90. Almost one in three (28 per cent) say they never expect to stop driving.

The reasons people say they will stop driving are slower reflexes (29 per cent), inability to judge road and traffic conditions (22 per cent) and medical impairment (17 per cent). Only six per cent say the cost of running a car will keep them off the road, while four per cent claim fear of death or injury would be enough to force their hand.

As far as other people’s opinion of older people driving, 70 per cent say they have never experienced ageism (or they just don’t care).

When we asked our members for comment about the safety of our roads, many say that the younger generation was a cause for concern.

“I am 70 years of age. I follow all the road rules and have my wits about me at all times. I got my licence at 18 years of age and was tested by a police officer. How about providing information on the younger generation as to how many are killed on the roads each year, and the cause of the accident. It would be very interesting I am sure,” wrote Toots.

Member Triss had the answers: “255 deaths age 26-39. 388 deaths age 40-64. Add to the above 228 deaths between age 17-25,” she wrote.

Another member says that proof of reckless driving is right in front of our eyes.

“Who is it you see weaving in and out of traffic dangerously, pulling out in front from intersections when there is a free road behind the car you pulled in front of – not the elderly but the under 50s – happens time and time again. You statisticians – how many drink drivers are there in the over 65 range? Yes, accidents are caused for many different reasons and it is unfair to lump them all with the over 65s,” wrote Troubadour.

We think Johnno nails the issue with this comment: “It's not so much about age but rather how confident and competent we are behind the wheel.”

Will you drive until you die? Do you think younger drivers are more of a problem than older drivers? Who are the worst drivers on the road?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    14th Jan 2019
    The younger ones are more likely to tailgate, try to squeeze in between you and the car in front of you and cut you off, drive through red lights, drive well over the speed limit, weave in and out of traffic, not indicate when changing lanes
    14th Jan 2019
    Tu-quoque fallacy. Just because there are bad younger drivers does not exonerate the elderly.
    14th Jan 2019
    I live in a tourist area, and have noticed a big increase this year in lawless behaviour on our roads. It's as if drivers think they are bullet proof and simply don't care how much carnage they could cause. No indication, cutting people off, especially at roundabouts, pulling out from side streets forcing people to brake suddenly, tailgating........I have seen things on the road that no sane person should have to deal with. I don't know what the answer is.

    14th Jan 2019
    This comment is very relevant, even worse for doing this re the P platers............
    “Who is it you see weaving in and out of traffic dangerously, pulling out in front from intersections when there is a free road behind the car you pulled in front of – not the elderly but the under 50s – happens time and time again. You statisticians – how many drink drivers are there in the over 65 range? Yes, accidents are caused for many different reasons and it is unfair to lump them all with the over 65s,” wrote Troubadour
    14th Jan 2019
    Are younger drivers more of a problem than older drivers? Where I live younger drivers in stolen vehicles are a serious problem. Some instances of deliberately ramming a police car to get away.
    Pass the Ductape
    14th Jan 2019
    I've seen many car accidents in my time and many traffic related infringements - and although I've picked up two or three speeding tickets for doing over five but under ten k's more than the limit - I've never had an accident as such myself and never caused one. The accidents and infringements I've witnessed however, have always involved someone who appears younger than fifty - so go figure who needs the extra attention!
    14th Jan 2019
    The major problem on our roads are drivers who cannot drive. Age is not the criteria but of course there is a limit re cognitive ability and eyesight. However while the law focuses on drink driving and speeding, completely ignoring incompetence, the road toll will continue to exceed expectations. Some of this must be attributed to overseas licenses that have been obtained in surreptitious circumstances. I know of one driver whose license cost $50 and it wasn't Australian dollars.

    14th Jan 2019
    This was really a very low-priority, non-issue, and YLC seems to be running out of topics - that too, in this election year with so many issues out there!

    Statistics are used to develop a Fake Story, e.g. the quote “255 deaths age 26-39. 388 deaths age 40-64. Add to the above 228 deaths between age 17-25,” - note that the Age Ranges are not the same, how about combining Age Rage 17-39 (23 years) with 483 deaths, to compare with Age Range 40-64 (25 years) with 388 deaths, instead? Gives a little different picture, doesn't it? So, the question should have been - How do we reduce the high rate of accidents and deaths involving younger drivers?

    Let me give one solution to the suggested Question above - Allow everyone to report any incidence of Bad Behaviour on the road by a P-Plater to a police / roads authority website - once any P-Plater gets 3 independent complaints, dock them x points, if they exceed y points, send them an extra Fine automatically.
    14th Jan 2019
    I am 70, obey the road rules, keep to the speed limit and drive defensively. Every day I am out driving, I witness people speeding, driving aggressively, being impatient, doing stupid things like weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, overtaking on double lines, etc. Most of the time, I don't know the age of the drivers, but the culprits are often driving high-performance cars or utes, often still displaying P-plates, which gives a good indication they are not the older drivers. Why is everyone always in such a hurry, driving as if the devil is chasing them?
    Pass the Ductape
    14th Jan 2019
    Spot on!
    On the Ball
    14th Jan 2019
    Oh dear...
    The poor young'uns ("Kids these days"...) cop it again.
    No account for how many more younger drivers are on the roads than older age groups. No account of when they have to do their motoring (work, for example). No account for when older drivers are on the road (after 10AM, before 5PM - to avoid traffic). Proper stats.
    Add to that, the older person's interpretation of some road rules and customs ("When I was a lad we ...). Total ignorance of what's going on around you ("he came out of nowhere" actually means your peripheral vision is a lot less than it was, and you would have seen him coming), any "sudden" move by another (usually younger) driver can be put down to our slower reflexes. It may look like they are taking a risk, but to them, with much quicker reflexes, they "have it covered".
    My Mum has just turned in her licence because she realizes she just cant cope with today's traffic. She is 92. Dad gave his up due to ill health, but (being an ex-cop) had all the advance driving training, so he KNEW he was no longer capable of driving.
    Me? I have done as many advanced and defensive driving courses as I can, I have always had the speedo in my cars calibrated (its amazing how many cars speedo's read way above the speed you are actually doing! 10kph over at 100 is legal, so you think you are doing 100 but are actually doing around 90. No wonder there are so many speed freaks on the roads!
    14th Jan 2019
    What can one say?? Yes - the poor young 'uns cop it again... they need to sometimes..
    14th Jan 2019
    There are a HELL of a lot of drivers young and old that should never have ever been on the road as their driving is atrocious -- and always has been -- others are excellent drivers and hold their license in esteem -- and regard it as a privilege -- they are the ones that will do the right thing when the time comes
    14th Jan 2019
    I only keep driving so I can mind the grandchildren and I strictly limit myself to driving only to their place, shopping and the local pool for a swim. I drive early mornings only and shop at 7am when there are less cars around. I feel the roads are not for me anymore and am happy to drive less.

    14th Jan 2019
    There are some excellent elderly drivers, but many are a menace on the roads.
    14th Jan 2019
    Very rarely does an elderly person take my breath away with me thinking OMG someone is going die. Yet on my commute I can guarantee someone will do something that is just a split second from a potential major accident yet the driver responsible it is not elderly.
    14th Jan 2019
    Yet another biased survey.
    The bravado of the people who answered the survey does not reflect the reality.
    The best way to get the facts is to observe the actual statistics.
    1. Look up the ABS statistics on accidents and road fatalities and it is quite clear it is not the aged have the majority of the accidents.
    2. Determine the statistics on who travels on public transport especially during off peak times and you will observe it is predominately the elderly travelling as they do not wish to drive into the city.
    3. Observe the traffic during stormy conditions. I would commute in horrendous weather conditions because of work expectations. I can guarantee that only the people who had to be on the road ventured out.
    14th Jan 2019
    ....... anyone (other than myself of course) ever "wondered" where on earth these pics. come from at the start of these "Topic" headings? I mean take a look at this poor old soul (supposedly driving?) at the top of this one?

    Looks like she's at least 102 yrs. of age (and then some....) lololol hilarious ....... (off Topic - sorry) :-)
    14th Jan 2019
    Modern car design can be a factor which makes it harder to adapt especially for older people because for most of their driving life,things remained the same.These days some cars have less visibility out the back of the car and more reliance is on blind spot monitors etc.Younger folk adapt quicker to the new technology than older who have always depended on their senses
    Roy R
    14th Jan 2019
    All the statisticians used by the universities all support the government's line that "speed kills". Why? Where do they get their funding from?
    I partook in a survey conducted by Cars Queensland (got paid $40.00) and it was rubbish. However the girl interviewing me admitted that speed was not the hug factor it's made out to be. The results of the survey? Speed is a contributer in 27% of all crashes.
    The idea of advanced driver training is always rejected by governments because the last thing tyhey want is for people to actually know how to drive because then the government bullsh*t won't be accepted and they will have to look elsewhere for their revenue.
    So what if your reactions slow, as long as you're aware of it and you make allownances. Other sensory limitations can be compensated for, such as glasses etc.
    I bewlieve that if you drive to the conditions as they affect you, you are still safe.
    15th Jan 2019
    It's not the under 50s, it's the under 35s!

    I've just come out of the 50-59 year old bracket and have found the younger ones to be more reckless than the 40-50 year olds.

    Yes, I've been affected by car accidents - I lost my parents together in a car accident when I was 13, and my younger brother to a motor cycle accident less than 13 years later, and I've even had an accident when I was 21 through no fault of my own. From this experience, I'm more cautious on the roads.

    If the younger drivers want to do all the 'showing off', then I let them and slow down and let them get on with their antics. There's never a cop around when you need one! BTW I live in a Rural NSW city, and won't ever drive in Sydney or Melbourne again.
    16th Jan 2019
    Younger drivers are impatient, they are more likely to be involved in road rage episodes, and many of them drink and or drug related issues.They also buy more powerful cars so they can race them, burn tyres, etc. How many people over 60 would do the above things? How many of them would be involved in police chases?
    Come on, stop picking on seniors, we are pretty safe. We drive less, more slowly and we respect others on the road.
    Fair Dinkum
    23rd Jun 2020
    I am over 75 have been driving since 17 on main roads and from about 9 years on the farm.i have been involved in driving 4wd in some of the roughest and most isolates areas in this country yes i have probable lost some of my confidence but not my abillity.I have been around aus a number of time with a 22 ft of road van recently spent 3 monthes in tassie where the roads are steep and winedy .it is also a challenge getting on
    and off the ferry with a large van but i managed successfully although confidencc is not what it used to be.so how many young drivers could navigate these conditions without a problem not many i would think. Yes i have had a few speeding fines but no accidents so just because you are over 75 dose not mean you are not a capable driver. When i have lost all confidence in my driving ability i will certainly give it away but untill then my old 80 series Landcruiser and my off road van will continue on but mostly down the back roads i keep off main roads and freeways as much as possible. The bigest problem with the back roads is the farmer comming out of his driveway with out looking but if you are aware of this not a problem

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