Age should not be considered the sole indicator of reduced driving ability. However, there is evidence that the skills necessary for safe driving begin to deteriorate with age. But the effects of aging impact on individuals at different times and in different ways. As a driver, by the time you reach your 60s and 70s, you will have acquired a wealth of motoring experience which should help you travel safely on our busy roads. Statistically, older drivers are less likely to have an accident than young and inexperienced drivers. But experience has to be balanced with the inevitable effects of aging. You may find that your sight, hearing and judgement of speed and distance are not quite as sharp as when you were younger. These are all vital factors in driving and they often deteriorate very gradually, so you may not be immediately aware of the full extent of the change.
It’s important to think about adjustment you might need to make in your driving habits and expectations and to take even greater care than ever on the road. Older drivers must have an annual medical assessment at 80 years and undertake an on-road driving test at 85 years. These legal requirements are intended to ensure your safety and that of other road users but responsibility for deciding when you should give up driving rest largely with you. Listen to advice from friends and relatives talk to your doctor or ask for an expert opinion.
FACTORS AFFECTING ROAD SAFETY FOR SENIORS
VISIONThere is a general decline in ability of people to see clearly as people age. Conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts become more frequent in older people and can result in problems in reading as well as seeing clearly in traffic.
HEARINGLoss of hearing is more common among older people.Older people who wear hearing aids may find heavy traffic noisy and confusing.
MOVEMENTDecreased mobility associated with arthritis and other conditions is a road safety issue amongst older people. Average walking speeds drop significantly with age, and this means that more time is needed to cross the road safely.
BALANCELoss of balance can be a problem for older people. To compensate for this older people tend to move more slowly and less confidently.
REACTIONSResponse time to avoid traffic dangers can increase as people age. This varies greatly between individuals.
MEDICATIONSMany seniors are required to take medications for illnesses and on-going ailments.Some medications can affect a person’s capacity to respond quickly to dangerous road situations.
TIPS FOR SENIOR DRIVERS
Auburn City Council - Road Safety Officere-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many factors that affect the safety of senior road users.
In the last 5 years on Auburn’s roads:
In the last 5 years, 1 pedestrian was killed and 205 seriously injured on Auburn roads. 1 in 4 of these was aged over 50.
Accidents involving older people occur most commonly at intersections in urban areas, especially near shopping centres.
Most pedestrian casualties happen in low speed areas. Many accidents occur through difficulties in judging either speed or pedestrian capability.
Tips for senior pedestrians