Should over 85s have to take extra driving tests?

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Older grey nomads face special driving test
Are young hands safer than old hands behind the wheel?

Branding it unnecessary and discriminatory, Western Australia is to scrap the scheme which requires drivers aged 85 and over to undergo a mandatory practical driving assessment when renewing their licence.

It will leave New South Wales as the only state that requires older drivers to take a special test.

Over the weekend, the ABC’s Background Briefing Program reported that age-based testing hadn’t been proven to reduce accidents. Nonetheless, in a recent review, New South Wales decided to continue to require drivers aged over 85 to undergo a driving test every second year.

Background Briefing spoke to Graham Blight, a director of the NRMA motoring body who has campaigned – without success – to have age-based tests scrapped.

“I think there’s a resistance to drop the driving test because they think it’s a test that’s creating more safety on the road and more safety for older drivers,” he said. “And yet they do not have one ounce of statistical evidence to say that’s so.”

However, a NSW Government Task Force review of older driver licensing recommended in September this year that age-based testing continue.

Marg Prendergast, from the NSW Government’s Centre for Road Safety, told the ABC that  compelling accident data meant age-based testing had to stay.

“In the last 10 years, there has been a 14% reduction in casualty crashes for all drivers,” she said. “There’s been a 50% increase for drivers aged 75-plus. And there’s been a 111% increase for drivers aged 85-plus.”

Ms Prendergast predicts that other states, faced with a similar situation, will inevitably swing back around to age-based testing.

However, the thinking is very different elsewhere. From December 16, WA drivers aged over 85 will no longer have to take practical driving tests to renew their licences.

“Research demonstrates that older drivers are not disproportionately represented in crash statistics … they actually show drivers aged 85 years and older accounted for about 1% of serious or fatal crashes in the past five years,” said WA Transport Minister Troy Buswell.  “This shows that older drivers do not pose an unacceptable risk on our roads and that these outdated testing requirements, based on misconceptions or stereotypes, were potentially discriminatory.”

Most states, including WA and NSW, have annual medical testing. However, Victoria has neither that, nor the on-road test, and its accident rate is no higher.

Should over-85s have to take extra driving tests? Do you think drivers get more dangerous with age? Comment below.

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7 Responses to Should over 85s have to take extra driving tests?

  1. Statistics show that older drivers are not a problem on the roads. When an older driver has an incident it is still headline newsworthy whereas if a late teens or 20 or 30 something has an incident it is just glossed over. Easy targets. My daughters mother in law, late 70’s, has just lost her husband who did all the driving but she is selling the car as she has lost confidence. Needs to be the older persons call with the help. maybe of their doctor.

  2. There are two types of old people,

    Old people who are Geriatrics, and very little movement, No, They shouldnt drive,
    But it is up to them, their Family, or the Local Doctor, To determine their competancy to drive,
    But that can happen at any age,
    So a time factor on age is just total discrimination due to an age ceiling,

    Old people who still throw themselves of tall mountains and call it skiing,
    Motor cycle riders, I know a couple of them in their mid 80;s, and still riding very quickly,

    Jumping out of planes, Walking across tall mountains for fun,

    Im 65, And some of the 65 year olds I know, are just sitting watching TV till they die,
    Others are like me, Extremely fit and healthy, I dont take pills for any thing,
    I ride a big fast Motor Cycle, I snow Ski, Waiting for 70, so I can ski for free,

    But it doesnt take much to be in a rural area in OZ,

    Take away some of these old peoples licences, What do you have,

    A person stuck at home, Too far to walk to any shops, No help or assistance to them,
    They starve or drive unlicenced,

    So now we have all these people screaming about all these drivers driving with out licences, or cancelled licences,

    Yeah, Thats the way Lock them all up, they are all criminals,

    Older persons would be better off in jail, Looked after in every way, 3 meals a day supplied, all services provided free,

    It would be a paradise for many of them, And I am Serious about that one,

    All this because you reach a set Fictitional Old Age Barrier, Where you suddenly fall of your perch,

    Have a look at some of the 100 year old, Young People,

    70 is the new Middle Age, By the time I get to be 100, Yes, I hope to make it and still be fit,

    90 will be middle age, Its going that way since the early 20th Century,

  3. I agree entirely with what Bob McKerrow said.

  4. all people regardless of geriatric status should be tested on license renewal when they reach 75 years of age. tough but would save lives.

  5. All drivers regardless of age should be periodically tested. Why are we required to renew our licence if we are not tested, surely it can’t be for purely revenue ?

  6. In NSW, I was almost run down by a V6 Holden sedan with a 92 year old behind the wheel. He drove over a speed bump in a shopping centre car park ; he then “confused” the accelerator for the brake!!

    Smoking the tyres , it’s amazing how he missed others walking nearby,, but it took a “brick wall” & an air bag to stop his madness that day!! Yes, most old folk are ok,, however there has to be a means to take some Oldies off the road, when they have become an accident waiting to happen!!

    The car was a write off & police took his licence following ; but a bit too late as it was pure luck that no one was killed. The point being , it’s wrong to totally rely on doctors to judge safety behind the wheel… there should be a road test age at some point…

  7. Typical of Australia, what is not alright for one is o.k for others in this case depends on where you live. How intelligent is that.
    There is younger drivers that need more supervision than the elderly.

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