Challenges loom as first of the baby boomers turn 65 this year
WATERLOO, ON, June 27, 2011 /CNW/ - A national study shows that
licensing polices for older drivers, which until now have not been
fully documented, vary widely in Canada.
Requirements for licence renewal, reporting practices, appeals processes
and options for restricted licences largely depend on where someone
lives, according to the researchers, Anita Myers from the University of
Waterloo, Brenda Vrkljan from McMaster University and Shawn Marshall
from the University of Ottawa.
The study, funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and Transport
Canada, found little agreement between the provinces and territories on
the best ways to identify and regulate older drivers who may present a
risk to themselves and other road users.
2011, the International Year of Road Safety, also marks the year
Canadian boomers begin turning 65. Transport Canada data shows that in
2009 there were 3.25-million licensed drivers aged 65 and older, 14 per
cent of the total driving population. The volume of senior drivers is
expected to more than double in the next decade.
"This has huge implications for transportation planners, licensing
authorities, health professionals and taxpayers," said Myers, a
professor of health studies and gerontology at Waterloo. "While older
drivers are involved in proportionately fewer collisions than younger
drivers, they are more likely to be seriously injured or die as a
result. The rate of fatal collisions starts to rise at age 70 and
continues to increase for drivers in their 80s and 90s."
As drivers age, they are more likely to develop vision and other health
problems that may compromise driving safety. In some provinces, but not
all, drivers are subjected to medical review once they turn 70, 75 or
80. Mass screening, however, is costly and apart from in-person
renewal, has shown minimal impact on fatalities.
Experts agree that the focus should be on identifying potentially
medically-at-risk drivers regardless of age and thoroughly assessing
each person's capabilities for continued safe driving. In most
provinces, physicians are required to report patients they suspect are
medically unfit to drive. This puts enormous pressure on doctors who
have increasing numbers of older patients with chronic conditions and
lack valid tools to determine fitness-to-drive.
Access to driver assessment centres, wait times and costs to drivers
themselves also vary widely from province to province, according to the
For many seniors, driving is crucial for maintaining mobility and
freedom. Surveys show that most would rather have restricted licences
(such as no night or highway driving) rather than lose their driving
privileges altogether. Licensing authorities are under pressure to
expand restricted licences for older drivers, comparable to graduated
licences for novice drivers.
Prior to the study, however, it was unclear which options were available
across the country or how authorities monitor driver compliance with
To make this information widely available, the Canadian researchers
partnered with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to produce a
comprehensive website on current practices and promising approaches
regarding medically at-risk and older drivers. The site provides
one-stop shopping for professionals and the general public looking for
information on licensing regulations and resources.
"The public has a right to know what is being done in various parts of
the country, while policy makers need these data to make informed
decisions based on best practices," said Kent Bassett-Spiers, CEO of
the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. "This research is the first step in
unifying policies and setting strategic priorities."
For more information on the study, visit www.Candrive.ca.
The University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's Technology
Triangle, is one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities.
Waterloo is home to 30,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and
graduate students who are dedicated to making the future better and
brighter. Waterloo, known for the largest post-secondary co-operative
education program in the world, supports enterprising partnerships in
learning, research and discovery. For more information about Waterloo,
SOURCE University of Waterloo
For further information:
Anita Myers, professor, health studies and gerontology, email@example.com
Michael Strickland, Waterloo media relations, 519-888-4777 or firstname.lastname@example.org