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Seniors would choose disease over loss of driver’s licence

Home > Senior Driving Issues > Seniors would choose disease over loss of driver’s licence

58170-19364Many seniors would rather hear that they have cancer than be told to surrender their driver’s licence, according to research from McGill University.

“Older drivers tell us the day you’re told, ‘Hand over your licence’ is worse than a cancer diagnosis,” researcher Nicol Korner-Bitensky said Thursday.

“I heard it so many times I was shocked,” she said. “I couldn’t figure it out, and when I asked why they’d tell me, ‘Cancer is something that comes, a lot of my friends have it, there are good treatments now. But having my licence taken away, day one to day two, my whole life changes overnight.’ ”

Fatalities and serious accidents have risen sharply among older drivers over the last decade.

Canada Safety Council statistics show that drivers over the age of 75 are 3 1/2 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who are 35 to 40 years old.

The statistics also show that driving-related accidents are the leading cause of accidental death for Canadians aged 65 to 74.

Safe driving is the focus of the Older Driver Blueprint project, released Thursday by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

The plan, funded by the federal Public Health Agency, recommends refresher programs for older drivers to lessen the likelihood of accidents.

“We are probably going to be the first nation that will have a national plan to change the crash rate we’re seeing,” said Korner-Bitensky, an associate professor at McGill University’s faculty of medicine.

There are now about three million older drivers on the road, and seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population.

Courtesy Bruce Ward, Canwest News Service

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