Don’t Limit Senior Driver’s License by Age – Study
Says Not Accurate Predictor of Ability
‘People do not wake up on their 75th birthday a
worse driver than they were the day before’
Jan. 28, 2014 - Encouraging older drivers to
self-regulate their driving rather than revoking their license based on
age, has the potential to improve their safety and maintain their
independence, according to a study from Queensland University of
Technology, Brisbane, Australia (QUT).
"People do not wake up on their 75th birthday a
worse driver than they were the day before, which is what current
age-based testing assumes," Dr. Wong said.
"We know that as people age their physical,
cognitive and sensory abilities decline. However, aged-based testing for
older drivers, although popular within legislative and public domains,
is problematic because we lack consensus as to which age-based tests can
accurately predict a driver's performance."
As part of her recently completed PhD, Dr. Wong
looked at whether self-regulation of driving behavior was adopted by
"Older drivers tell us that they have changed their
driving patterns as a result of age, for example restricting their
night-time and long distance driving habits to reduce the challenges of
high-pressure driving," she said.
"As part of my study I used in-car monitoring to
confirm that older drivers do self-regulate their driving such as
avoiding peak hour traffic and night-time driving.
"This suggests that rather than discriminating
against older drivers because of their age by restricting their way of
getting around town, we could aim to improve their safety, as well as
mobility, by supporting them to self-regulate their driving behaviors."
Dr. Wong said as the world's adult population was
rapidly aging, managing the safety of older drivers was fast becoming a
critical social and public health issue.
"We do know that taking away a person's license
impacts on their mobility, independence, health and overall quality of
"Not having a license can be socially isolating and
result in health issues like depression."
Dr. Wong said while older drivers had a higher
crash risk when measured per kilometer, the fact they tend to drive
significantly less than other age groups exaggerated this statistic,
giving them an unwarranted bad reputation on the roads.
"They have a far lower crash risk when compared to
younger drivers, but when they do crash they are more likely to be
seriously injured or killed, because they tend to be more fragile."
Dr. Wong said her study found older drivers who had
support from a "driving partner" to share the driving load,
self-regulated and reduced their time behind the wheel.
She said access to public transport also reduced
older drivers' time on the road.
"There are a lot of positive implications for
supporting self-regulation of driving behavior compared with using age
to determine a person's driving ability," Dr. Wong said.
"Older drivers can reduce their reliance on their
license, while staying mobile and independent.
"Then when they must stop driving because of a
decline in their ability, it will have less of an impact on their
quality of life because they already have other means to meet their
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