Around 250 Australians over the age of 65 die in car crashes each year and another 4000 are hospitalised. It is estimated that injury risk is nine times higher per kilometre in drivers 85 years and older compared to drivers between the ages of 25 and 69.
That’s what research from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) in partnership with Transurban says, with a report which claims that injuries sustained by older drivers are also more severe than those suffered in younger age groups.
Little wonder then that road safety for seniors is high on their list.
“At the heart of the safe systems approach is the understanding that humans have inherent frailties, both in terms of how our bodies respond in crashes and in our behaviours. The entire road system, including the vehicles operating in the system, must take these frailties into account,” said Associate Professor Julie Brown.
“Cars are a primary means of transport for senior Australians. They provide independent living and enable social and community engagement and are particularly important where public transport is limited. Car safety is therefore a critical component of healthy ageing.”
One of the more challenging dilemmas for older people is when to hang up the car keys. It can’t be denied that along with ageing, some people will notice a diminishment in certain driving skills, such as slower reflexes, or medical conditions, such as poor eyesight or other impairments, that force your hand. But depending on which state you reside, that decision may be taken out of your hands.
Some states have mandatory testing rules for those over 75. In others, maximum lengths of licence terms revert to three years instead of 10. In some states it is necessary to obtain a doctor’s certificate before you can renew your licence.
But is there a way to tell if you are at the stage of having to stop driving? Should you be preparing to hang up your keys? Is it fair that the decision to stop driving is taken out of your hands? Are you risking your life by staying on the road?
While at a certain stage in life, many drivers may recognise that it’s time to stop driving. However, others persist, despite the obvious signs. We thought we’d ask you a few questions about your driving habits, whether or not you should really still be driving, or when you expect to hand over your car keys.
And of course, we welcome your opinion in the comments section below.