Should we be able to self assess our driving ability?

Driving is a wonderful thing, and many of us still do it 40, 50 and even 60 years after we first got our licence. It’s sad to think about but at some stage in our lives, there will come a time when we won’t be able to drive ourselves around. But when should that time be? And should we assess it ourselves?

Earlier this month, the South Australian government rolled out a self-assessment for drivers over 75. From July 1, drivers won’t have to have mandatory medical testing if they don’t have pre-existing medical conditions – instead they will need to answer an 11 question survey.

The self-testing form was created with the Australian Medical Association, Centre for Automotive Safety Research and older driver focus groups.

“We want people to answer honestly and consult a doctor immediately if the form indicates they may have a condition which restricts their ability to drive,” Mr Piccolo said.

“Health professionals are still required to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles if a patient suffers a medical condition that could affect their ability to drive safely.

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“Doctors may also recommend a practical driving test to confirm that a patient is fit to drive”.

Despite the self assessment, we wonder what you think. How old is too old to be driving? A few months ago we heard that tragic story in Brisbane where a 87-year-old man accidentally ran over his wife, killing her in a shopping centre carpark.

A recent survey revealed that older drivers are just as dangerous as young hoons, with a tendency to speed and take risks whilst behind the wheel.

According to Geriatrician David Lussier, research shows older drivers were causing as many car accidents as young reckless drivers due to their deteriorating cognitive and physical abilities and likelihood to be on multiple medications.

When we get into our 50s and 60s, it’s common knowledge that our cognitive abilities deteriorate, but we may not have known the full extent of what could happen just by merely getting behind the wheel as we age.

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“Driving requires a lot of divided attention because you have to focus on what you’re seeing in front of you, as well as to the right and to the left of you. And you have to coordinate that with what you’re doing with your hands and feet. It’s a very complex task,” Mr Lussier said at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists’ annual scientific meeting in Adelaide, reports Fairfax.

According to the Transport Accident Commission, “drivers aged 75 years or over have a higher risk (per distance travelled) of being killed in a crash than any other age group. As we age our bodies become more fragile and those particularly in this age group are more likely to be hurt or killed in a crash”.

They made mention of the fact that many older people are perfectly capable of driving safely, yet physical and mental changes that often come with ageing can affect how well older people drive.

 

Should we be able to judge our own driving ability? Or is it time to age restrict drivers regardless of health for the safety of everyone on the road? How would you rate your driving skills?