FOR MANY OLDER DRIVERS, MOBILITY MAY BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SAFETY
This paper has the following objectives:
- to re-examine older drivers? apparent over-involvement in crashes;
- to identify the benefits of maintaining mobility amongst older people;
- to review the present capability to assess older drivers? fitness to drive;
- to present policy options for managing older drivers, giving greater prominence to continued mobility.
The greying of western society has led to an increased concern about older driver safety and future road tolls. Whilst some age-related impairments reduce driving skills, they explain only a moderate portion of older drivers? crash risk - much of which is due to ?the frailty bias?, rather than to a diminution of driving skills.
The need for mobility does not cease with old age. Excessive restriction of older people?s mobility will be detrimental both to society generally which will become increasing dependent upon expenditure by older citizens and to the individual, who will have reduced access to services and social facilities.
The cessation of mandatory age-based assessment is urged for a number of reasons, not the least being its dubious validity and its contribution to premature cessation of driving. The paper concludes that in all but the most clearcut cases, licensing policy should aim at keeping older drivers on the roads for as long as possible. For this to be achieved, a number of licensing and other policy steps are recommended.