Getting your driver’s licence is one of those first real tastes of freedom and independence for many people, along with such milestones as moving out of home, and achieving financial independence through getting a job.
Most of us take the freedom of driving for granted, but for many, the thought of losing this independence becomes truly scary, especially as they get older. These days, there are laws in place in a lot of places which require older drivers to take tests in order to renew their licence, which can be daunting, especially if it’s been decades since you took your initial test!
Now, a new program is making it possible for older drivers to continue being able to get about independently.
The Royal Rehab Return2Driving initiative is currently only in Sydney, Australia, but the idea is one that could be adopted in any place where there are restrictions placed on older drivers renewing their licences.
An Older Driver Assessment (ODA) is required by the New South Wales government once every two years when a driver reaches the age of 85. This on-road test can often be a hurdle for older Australians who may have to complete the test in a location that is unfamiliar to them.
The Royal Rehab Older Driver Assessment program allows elderly clients to go through practice or testing in their own neighbourhood, using their own car (or a fleet car if they prefer).
Royal Rehab Program Manager Kylie Chambers said that the organisation was excited to be able to support the elderly population in maintaining their independence and autonomy.
“The ODA program allows us to schedule home visits with elderly drivers in our community who need to complete this requirement to keep their license,” said Chambers.
“Our accredited assessor takes them through practice or testing in their own neighbourhood, an opportunity they might not have had before. Allowing them this additional level of familiarity can sometimes make the difference in whether they can complete the exam to the best of their ability.”
Laws on older drivers very from state to state in the US, with only some putting restrictions on licence renewals in the later years of life, and some even reducing the requirements older drivers must meet. Likewise, in Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have specific requirements for older drivers who wish to retain their licence, but other states and territories do not.