Should we be able to self assess our driving ability? 263



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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.

“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.

“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? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. At age 62 I was required to be assessed by my GP for driving because of a medical condition. Two weeks later I was a fleet driver for the ICC World Cup.

  2. I would be honest, when the time comes. I would never want to be a liability on the road, and be a danger to loved ones or other people.

  3. Physical and Mental Health is always looked upon as the key factor with the aged and their driving skills.What about reflexes,I know for a fact they are never tested..A lot of oldies have the mental attitude well I am only driving to the shops…they cannot accept a lot can happen even in the shortest of drives.

    3 REPLY
    • Joy, I am 76 yrs old and consider myself to be fit and able with good reflexes. Just last week I managed in a split second to swerve and miss a ladder that fell off a vehicle in front of a truck next to me – the truck slammed on its brakes, I was concerned about what the truck would do when a split second later the ladder bounced into my lane, I swerved onto the median strip missing both the ladder and the cable divide. I would be more than happy to be tested – I don’t believe it’s an age thing. Dangerous driving happens with all ages!

    • I am 67,I went through this with my father he was 86 still driving and had the reflexes of a snail,every day his car would gain more “character scratches” not one was ever his fault.!,@Jan,I doubt you will have those same skills at 86,I am glad you lived to tell the tale,My dad finally gave it up when he planted his foot on the accelorator and not the brake and demolished the garage door for the third time

  4. I know someone in her 90’s who most definitely should NOT be driving, but she thinks she is a good driver!

  5. I am 74 and still drive and believe I am a safe driver. Any bumps I have had have been other younger peoples fault. Wouldn’t like to drive in a big city though mainly because I wouldn’t know where I was going. Don’t have a navman. X

  6. I am 65 and yes I believe we should be tested regularly. If I am told I am no longer fit to drive, I won’t like it. But I will accept it. I don’t want to be the cause of other people being hurt or killed because of my stubbornness.

  7. If you live in a small town or village everyone knows to look out for old Mrs or Mr so and so, but busy places need all your facilties because nobody gives a hoot. Testing should be done I think after 80.

  8. Should do a driving test over a certain age and passed by a doctor.i know people over 80 that have handed their licence in because they have had near misses.

  9. I am 69 and next year I am going to get a Police man or Driving instructor to come with me for a drive. If they tell me I should not be driving, then so be it. I will do this every 2 years.

    8 REPLY
  10. I live in a retirement resort and last year many of us chose to do a driving course with someone from Vic Roads, it was brilliant because it made people realise how some laws have changed over the years although I kept up with new laws because I worked for the Bus Industry and we always received updates, there were also many who didn’t know how to merge properly and by their own admission would not drive on Freeways, also some were not sure how to use roundabouts correctly however by doing the course they all gained the confidence to drive without problems. I think these courses are a brilliant idea and should be mandatory over 75.

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