Are older drivers more dangerous than hoons? 175



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It’s a sad thought but at some stage in our lives, there will come a time when we won’t be able to drive ourselves around. Whether or not it’s because we physically can’t do it, or the law says we can’t any more, there will be a time that it becomes dangerous for us to be on the road. But some are warning that older drivers are risking others’ lives sooner and just as much as young hoons.

It’s been the source of much debate for many years now: how old is too old to be driving? Just a few weeks 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 new survey has 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 didn’t know just the shocking 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.

Medications were said to play a role in driving behaviour and could decrease a driver’s ability to focus on multiple things at once, a skill all drivers need to have.

So what is the cause of accidents that over-50 drivers are having? Dr Lussier puts it down to bad judgement or delayed decision making. He said it wasn’t necessary to put an age restriction on ageing, but family members should have discussions with elderly drivers to consider if they should be driving.

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.

The TAC has issued a checklist for any driver who is questioning whether they should continue to drive, which you can view here.

Additionally, A Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety analysis of crashes in Queensland between 2004 and 2009 has shockingly found similarities between drivers in their 90s – they were equally likely as those in their early 20s to be involved in car accidents, with older driver crashes more severe.

Sadly, older drivers in these crashes were also more likely to be regarded as being at fault and on medications at the time. Despite this, the Road Safety report warned against painting every driver with the same brush; that is to say, older drivers should not have reduced access to driving because of the perceived risks.


With an ageing population, and the number of over 60 drivers set to double in the next 15 years, is it now time that our governments look for a way to address this issue? What can be done? 

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  1. Physical and mental changes … rubbish. I was at Uni when I was way past 50 and was far from mentaly defficient. There are many older drivers who could teach the young ones a thing or two about road safety. Yes there are some wo need to be off the road and as the article says it is a good thing to have a family discussion about. Lets not become like the current Gov and lob all seniors into one basket. With pulis as it is these days it is fairly easy to get around without your own vehicle

  2. At 60 plus, you are too old for anything! But that’s ok ’cause you are invisible to most people younger than that anyway!

    14 REPLY
    • It was said with tongue in cheek! I have no problem being over 60. I love my life and do so many fun and exciting things!
      I was having a dig at quite a few younger people who seem to think we don’t exist after 60! Sorry you got the wrong impression Rod!
      Life is great!

    • Irene, These young people, like Rod, Never did “Clear Thinking” in school, or had to use there Brain.
      They can not see a bit of Humour if they tripped over it
      And Rod, Trust me mate you will be over 65 “Tommorrow”.
      And won’t be able to drive. …………….(y)

    • Ok Wayne; I take your point. In 3yrs time when I am over 65 I hope that I am still able to see “humour” before I end up on my backside. Hopefully my ability to use correct grammar and spelling and to use my school gained knowledge of “clear thinking” and my ability to ”use my brain” will not deteriorate. It is good to see that you consider 62 YEAR OLD as being “young people.” That is what Starts at Sixty is all about. Staying Young.

    • People are quick to blame if people are over sixty,How about young and not so young on illegal drugs who are driving,from another country and can not read English and do not and cannot read road signs, even though many are used internationally .Leave crossing 2/3 lanes of traffic at the last minute to turn a corner,cutting in front of you causing you to brake and can cause accidents.So stop blaming older people for most of the accidents.

    • Pat this is very true in the NT where they come in on holidays hire a car or 4Wd or a campervan and then take of down the centre yo see slice, Uluru and so on and have nasty accidents because they roll over or speed pushing up the road toll.

    • Age is a state of mind, family are to busy an think you should not have anything to say , picked the wrong person.. an do what they wont quiet perthatic..

    • Some elderly people can be dangerous drivers, and some can be better than the younger drivers. Just depends on the person.

    • i’m 64 and still have my facilities in what i’m doing irene how old are you will you be driving when you hit 60

    • Lynette, I am 66, and have no intention of giving up anything, including driving, for a long, long time. I have a great life with my husband (44 years) family, friends, travel, I paint, have hobbies and make heaps of craft items. I do what I like most of the time, in my time.

  3. I went to college at 55 Babs, and gained several Certificates with Credit, unlike one of the 18 year-olds who got 8% !! …probably got his name right!! 🙂

  4. So does that mean we are also too old and too dotty to keep working. Sounds like BS, cant have it both ways. Too old and mentally incompetent and relexes too slow to drive but none of that applies when working until 70

    6 REPLY
    • No. But when we are working we aren’t taking other people’s lives in our hands. We aren’t sitting inside a 1 tonne vehicle travelling at 110 kph. If we are a bit slower reacting to serving a customer at the checkout or typing a letter or moving a box from one part of the factory floor to another, it isn’t endangering another person’s life. But if we are a bit slower reacting to a traffic incident, we are not only endangering our lives but also the lives of our passengers and other road users.

    • Depends what job you have done all your life, take a truck driver for instance, where are all these customer service jobs going to come from. So all of a sudden there are going to be plenty of easier jobs for all.

  5. No you can’t have a cut off. It is an individual thing. As for being too old for anything at 60 plus – Irene, I hope you are joking. You’re never too old to learn something new!

    1 REPLY
  6. There are some facts we have to face, that there are drivers out there who do have trouble driving. They have cognitive problems, due to onset Alzheimer’s, or dementia. This can happen at any age, by this I mean you don’t have to be in your 80’s. I have known of quite a few drivers who did drive with this diagnosis! Scary! Very scary! Our current government Isn’t lobbing everyone into the same basket at all. This is a worrying problem, every case is different. Of course there are heaps of elderly people who are responsible drivers, and can drive as well as ever! Just as there are heaps of younger drivers who drive safely. Good and bad in all ages!

    1 REPLY
  7. When ever our mental and/or physical ability to carry out a given task is doubted; it is a natural human response to be defensive or indeed offended by such a suggestion.This is particularly so when it comes to driving our car. However it is a fact that as we get into our more mature years we start to wear out. This happens in varying degrees that we sometimes barely notice. All the time our egos are telling us that we are just as good or maybe better than we ever were. Some of us will admit that carrying out certain tasks takes more effort and concentration than once was. Others will pig headedly continue to carry out such tasks blissfully unaware that they need to re assess how age might be effecting their ability. Have a look at the TAC Older driver checklist and if you can honestly anwer all the questions you may find that you need to have a think about just how competent you are behind the wheel.

    1 REPLY

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