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Michel Bédard Does not Favour age Based Testing

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Michel Bédard, director of the Centre for Research on Safe Driving at Lakehead University, isn’t a fan of age-based testing.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of evidence that having regular testing actually makes a difference,” he said

People either lose their license when they shouldn’t, or have to go for more testing, which can be costly and stressful.
Driving is a complex task that requires many different skills and no reliable test exists to predict who is a hazard and who isn’t, he said.
“Without those tools, it’s difficult to make good decisions,” said Bédard.
He pointed to a 1996 study in Finland and Sweden where the country that instituted age-based testing had an increase in senior pedestrian fatalities, without any real increase to road safety.

Bédard is leading CanDRIVE, a long-term study aimed at “improving the safety and quality of life of older drivers.”
Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the goal is to develop a tool that will help identify older drivers who might need further assessment.

But the team is still collecting information and doesn’t expect to have any solid findings for another few years.
For the meantime, Bédard said, “it’s not like older people are this big menace to society.”
Young men are the most dangerous on the road, but we don’t make them go through testing, he continued.

Annie Harmon, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who’s focused on driver-screening training programs, agrees with Bédard.
“Some people feel there are clear answers sometimes because it makes them feel better to say, ‘Let’s take everyone who’s 80 and older off the road’,” she said.

Taking someone off the road has many unintended consequences, not just for older drivers – who are community volunteers, grandparents and baby-sitters – but also for their extended families and local economies, said Harmon.
“It’s a complicated, uncomfortable subject and when people don’t know what to do, they either ignore them or try to over simplify them,” said Harmon.

The balance between what the sciences can prove and the need to make effective and responsible public policy has always been a delicate dance, and science isn’t exactly known for being fast.