Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney this morning welcomed news that drivers aged 85 years and older will no longer be forced to undergo a mandatory practical driving assessment when renewing their car licence in Western Australia.
Mr Blayney said he had been approached by constituents disturbed by the mandatory practical driving assessments and had passed on their concerns to Transport Minister Troy Buswell.
“The State Government is introducing this change based on research into older driver behaviour which suggests they do not pose an unacceptable risk and that these outdated processes are potentially discriminatory and based on misconceptions or stereotypes, Mr Blayney said.
“Research indicates that older drivers are not disproportionately represented in crash statistics. When compared to other road user groups the number of seniors involved in road crashes is very low.”
Licence holders aged 80 years and older must still undergo annual medical tests, however they would only be required to undergo a driving assessment if it is recommended by a doctor. These drivers get a new licence card every year once all criteria are met.
Mr Blayney said the changes would come into effect from December 16 and were supported by road safety research.
The changes would bring the State into line with nearly every Australian jurisdiction.
The State Government already has stringent safety requirements in place for drivers of any age, including mandatory reporting of medical conditions or driving impairments for all licence holders, which was introduced in 2008.
Mr Blayney said WA Police data shows that of all the fatal or serious road traffic accidents in the past five years (2008-12),
drivers aged 85 years and older accounted for about 1 per cent of the total; and
drivers aged 60 years and older accounted for about 12 per cent of the total (comprising drivers aged 70-84 years at 6 per cent; and drivers aged 60-69 years at 5 per cent).
Half of all fatal or serious traffic accidents involved drivers aged 20-39 years. The age group of drivers representing the highest rate (30 per cent) of serious or fatal road traffic accidents is 20-29 years.
Further, Mr Blayney said compulsory practical driving assessments for drivers aged over 85 places unnecessary stress on many of our senior citizens, many of whom are effectively managing their driving practices in line with their ability.
In 2012/13, less than one-in-1000 driver’s licence holders aged 85 years and older who would have been required to undertake a practical driving assessment (PDA), had their licence revoked by the Department of Transport (DoT) after failing a PDA.
The following graph and table (compiled by DoT based on crash data supplied by the Police Traffic Policy Unit) illustrates by age group the drivers involved in serious or fatal crashes 2008-13:
Additionally: after four years of tracking some 1300 older drivers with in-car recording devices and collecting data on medical conditions and medications, a Monash Accident Research Centre study being conducted in Victoria (in collaboration with Canada) has indicated that “they are very conscious that they are getting slower with age, and so they compensate for that because driving is so important to them”; and
one of the key findings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report Ageing and Transport: Mobility Needs and Safety Issues 2001 was that older drivers – with fewer reported crashes per capita or per number of drivers – tended to be safer than was commonly believed.