But what's the answer? Do we make it harder for them to keep their licenses or change the rules so it's easier for them to stay safe on the roads?
She may be 100-years-old but no one drives Miss Maisey. Since getting her licence 82 years ago, great grandmother Maisey Griffiths has never had an accident.
Now, under controversial new plans, more people over 75 will be on our roads for longer. The suggestions include replacing ‘Give way’ signs with green and red arrows; dedicated merging lanes becoming common place and bigger; and better designed signs added to our road networks to specifically help older drivers.More stories from Today Tonight
But there's concern too about older drivers whose reactions are slowing in a world that's getting faster.
There are also tragic accidents prompting a radical re-think of how our road networks are designed, in a bid to protect older Australians from themselves.
A mother who lost her leg when 88-year-old Ronald Petfield hit the accelerator instead of the brake, is Peter Lawlor's daughter.
“The number of people that have said to me ‘we won't let our children drive with grandma or granddad’ - well if that's the case they shouldn't - grandma and granddad - shouldn't be on the road, and they should do something about it,” Lawlor said.
The former Queensland Member of Parliament is critical of a new study by the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland suggesting governments should modify road rules to suit the elderly's diminishing ability.“The independence and convenience of an older driver shouldn't outweigh the safety of the community - and it's just that simple,” Lawlor added.
Dr Mark King from Carrs-Q believes older drivers are more likely than middle-aged or younger drivers to have a crash at intersections with stop or give way signs.
“We find that older drivers are more likely to be at fault for their crashes, but the kind of fault is different. The reason they are at fault in crashes is mostly to do with making mistakes, making a wrong decision, failing to integrate that information,” Dr King said.
“We know there are things you can do to maintain the knowledge of these road rules, by perhaps getting a refresher course from a driving instructor, and that can have some benefits as well to pick up on behaviors as bad habits.”
He says instead of re-testing elderly drivers on current road rules, we should look at changing them.
“Obviously we have to be judicious as to where we put those because it has implications both for costs and for the mobility of the traffic in general. But I think there is good argument for prioritizing those changes,” he added.
The RACQ's Paul Turner says it's a start. “We don't support more legislation around testing for drivers. At the end of the day what we see as the most practical application, is that most motorists know whether they should be driving themselves,” he concluded.What do you think is the right solution for seniors on the roads?
- RACQ - www.racq.com.au
This reporter is on Twitter at @DamienHansen7
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