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Annual compulsory medical test for elderly drivers axed in Australia

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 ANNUAL medical tests for drivers aged 70 and over will be scrapped to encourage older people to remain active in the community and because evidence shows they do not lower crash rates.

The State Government move follows research that shows Victoria, which does not have age-based testing, has a crash rate similar to South Australia and New South Wales, and lower than the crash rate in all other states.

Health and Ageing Minister Jack Snelling said removing the mandatory testing age was a key part of SA’s Ageing Plan, which aims to support older residents to be more active and engaged in the community.

“Compared to other states and territories across Australia, South Australia has the youngest age for a mandatory medical check, despite having the oldest mainland population,” Mr Snelling said.

“While some jurisdictions have compulsory medical testing for drivers at 75 and 80 years of age, there are some who do not have aged-based testing at all and that is what South Australia will move to from September 1, 2014.

“Age-based testing has not been demonstrated to reduce crash rates for older drivers. Age-based testing has, however, been found to prompt some older drivers to cease driving, which in turn reduces their social interaction and engagement in the community.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows in 2012 there were about 185,000 South Australians aged 70 and older, the majority living independently. This is projected to rise to between 247,000 and 269,000 by 2023.

“South Australia has a growing number of older people, with 35 per cent of South Australians aged over 50,” Mr Snelling said. “People are living longer and fuller lives and we need to have more relevant policies that do not discriminate by age and support our older population.”

Council on the Ageing SA executive director Ian Yates warmly welcomed the move as a positive development.

“In most businesses it is illegal to discriminate based on age,” he said.

“There are lots of people aged 70 and above still happily in the workforce, active in the community and independent, and transport is a big part of that … People of an older age are more youthful than people of previous generations 70 is the new 50.

 

Courtesy THE ADVERTISER, South Australia; DECEMBER 24, 2013 7:26AM

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