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Senior drivers deserve respect, says Age Concern

Age Concern New Zealand | Media Release

28 April 2009

Senior drivers deserve respect, says Age Concern

"Recent comments about senior drivers are not appropriate," Age Concern New Zealand national president Liz Baxendine says.

Age Concern is hitting back at a Rolleston policewoman's comments criticising older drivers and doctors after an older woman's minor car accident.

President Liz Baxendine says increasing numbers of older people are driving, but they're facing ageist attitudes.

"When an older person has a car accident, there's a lot of jumping to conclusions," Age Concern's Liz Baxendine says. "Even before all the facts are known, there can be an assumption that they're at fault and they must be incapable, simply because of their age."

"Anyone can make a mistake or become unwell behind the wheel, but some seniors' accidents get sensationalist coverage."

"Older drivers are really put under a microscope. They already have to renew their licences at age 75, 80 and then every two years after that. This includes a medical certificate confirming they're safe to drive".

"We think this is working well. If doctors have any concerns about their driving, they can put restrictions on the medical certificate or refer patients for specialist assessments.

"However, we're concerned that older drivers alone face extra costs to maintain a driving licence," Liz Baxendine says. "These can be a real burden on a group that has one of the lowest accident rates."

In 2008, the driver was aged 75 or older in just 4.4 percent of accidents that resulted in injury or death.

"Older drivers have a lifetime of safe driving practices behind them; they're less likely to drink and drive and more likely to wear seat belts. However, because older people are less strong, they're more likely to be injured in accidents and take longer to recover."

"We can contribute to our own safety by reviewing and renewing our driving skills as we age," Liz Baxendine says. "I recommend Safe With Age, a free road safety awareness and road rules refresher course offered by many local Age Concerns and other community groups."


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