Analysis of older driver mobility and safety associated with the removal of the New Zealand older driver on-road licensing test
Until recently, New Zealand had a licensing regime that included a specific on-road driving test for all drivers aged 80 and over. The test was dispensed with in December 2006 as there was good evidence that older drivers did not merit such a specific test. The aim of this study was to see what changes in travel patterns and crash rates occurred in response to the removal of the older driver licence test. Analyses of national surveys of travel behaviour and crash data were undertaken to identify any changes in mobility or safety of older people, controlling for age-related changes in the New Zealand population. There was only a small increase in distances driven by people aged 80 plus associated with the licensing change. No detectable change in the injury crash rates of older drivers was apparent. The fears of some commentators that the removal of specific older driver on-road tests would result in sharp increases in road trauma have not been realised. Although it is difficult to detect any significant increase in driving activity for this group, it is likely that the convenience of making relatively short trips as drivers would have been a major benefit to many older people who might otherwise have ceased driving because of the licence test.