Ageing drivers: Live and let drive

La Trobe University’s Chair of Road Safety Management argues increasing mandatory testing and licensing requirements for ageing drivers is not necessary.

senior drivingA recent study by Professor Richard Tay examines the re-testing and licensing requirements in five Canadian provinces and their respective vehicle collision rates for ageing drivers.

‘As the population in most developed countries continues to age, there is an increasing concern about its effect on traffic safety, resulting in calls to tighten the licensing renewal policies for mature drivers,’ says Professor Tay.

‘Common perceptions is that ageing drivers cause more crashes on the road however there is no concrete evidence to support this,’ says Professor Tay. 

The research aimed to find whether provinces with stricter licensing policies for ageing drivers have lower rates of traffic accidents. 

‘From our results we found that ageing drivers did not cause more fatal crashes – partly due to the fact they self-regulate; driving less and are not driving as fast. 

‘We did however find that there was an increase in injuries from low speed crashes, as most ageing drivers are more fragile and thus more likely to suffer from minor injuries,’ says Professor Tay. 

Professor Tay carried out a similar study in Australia in 2005, which found also, that the increase in the number of ageing drivers licensed had no significant effect on the number of fatal crashes.

‘From looking at the licensing practices in the several provinces across Canada we found there is no correlation between having stricter rules and less traffic accidents,’ says Professor Tay. 

‘This was just a small part of the overall research we plan to carry out on ageing drivers, we also need to look more in depth in to the accuracy of these tests.’

The research was funding by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and The Alberta Motor Association (AMA). 

The findings were published in Cambridge Journals, Ageing & Society (Ageing driver licensing requirements and traffic safety. Ageing & Society, 2012; 32:655-672).


ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

La Trobe University Communications Officer

T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: M.Lodwick@latrobe.edu.au  

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