Older drivers could face tough new licensing restrictions amid claims they are a danger to other drivers and themselves.
New South Wales mother Sue Jenkins is petitioning for stricter rules for the older cohort after her son was killed by an elderly driver in 2016.
Jenkins’ son Dann was riding his motorbike when he was fatally hit by 87-year-old Edwin Jessop. Jessop had recently passed his drivers test, but was turning a corner when he failed to see Dann and turned directly into his path.
Jenkins told 2GB’s Ray Hadley on Saturday that something had to change.
“Mr Jessop passed his test late July and then killed our son in October. The test is inadequate,” she said.
It’s not the first time elderly drivers have been singled out for tougher road tests and licensing restrictions, however, data shows that the anger towards them might be misplaced.
Government data shows that in the last 12 months 129 people aged 65-74 were killed on the road, compared to 410 aged 40-64, and 248 aged 26-39.
While these numbers don’t stipulate which age bracket caused the most accidents, Monash University Accident Research Centre Professor Max Cameron told Crikey older drivers generally take extra care to reduce their risk of hurting anyone on the road.
“What we find is that older people recognise their limitations and drive much less,” he said.
“They seldom drive at night, they usually drive at lower speeds, and they’re usually affluent enough to drive better cars.”
What’s more, young people typically drive cheaper and more dangerous cars, while older people can afford safer vehicles.
Drivers in some states are already required to carry a medical certificate with them in the car, but there are calls for more restrictions, such as annual driving tests, to make it harder for elderly drivers to get on the road.
Last year, Jenkins told ABC’s 7.30 that the government was too focussed on giving the elderly independence and that it was costing young lives.
“[Older drivers] are a growing deadly problem on our roads and there is no will by governments to take any action to make it safer for the general public,” she said.
“We are second-class citizens because the independence of the elderly driver is more important than our right to expect other drivers on the roads to be competent.”