Older drivers

Older driver seminar - Ku-ring-gai

Ku-ring-gai Council is offering Retirement Villages and Probus Clubs within the Ku-ring-gai Local Government Area, the opportunity to have an experienced road safety guest speaker facilitate an interactive older driver seminar.

The guest speaker will cover staying safe on our roads, misunderstood road rules, low risk driving strategies, road safety "myth busting", the older driver licensing system and practical on-road tips, including time for questions and answers.

Bookings are essential. Phone Ku-ring-gai Council's Road Safety Officer on 9424 0843.

In 2019 in the Sydney Metropolitan area, drivers aged 60 years and older:

  • represented 18.8 % of all drivers killed;
  • represented 13.8 % of all drivers injured;
  • were involved in 2,693 crashes equal to 13% of all traffic crashes.

Age should not be considered the sole indicator of reduced driving ability and the effects of aging impact individuals at different times and in different ways. However, there is evidence that the skills necessary for safe driving begin to deteriorate with age.

The difference age makes

As a driver, by the time you reach your 60s and 70s, you will have acquired a wealth of motoring experience which should help you travel safely on our busy roads.

Statistically, older drivers are less likely to have an accident than young and inexperienced drivers. But experience has to be balanced with the inevitable effects of aging.

You may find that your sight, hearing and judgement of speed and distance are not quite as sharp as when you were younger. These are all vital factors in driving and they often deteriorate very gradually, so you may not be immediately aware of the full extent of the change.

Driving for your age

It’s important to think about adjustment you might need to make in your driving habits and expectations and to take even greater care than ever on the road.

Older drivers must have an annual medical assessment at 80 years of age and undertake an on-road driving test at 85 years. These legal requirements are intended to ensure your safety and that of other road users. But ultimately, the responsibility for deciding when to give up driving is largely up to you.

Listen to advice from friends and relatives, talk to your doctor or ask for an expert opinion.

Factors affecting road safety for older drivers here

There is a general decline in ability of people to see clearly as people age. Conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts become more frequent in older people and can result in problems with reading as well as seeing clearly in traffic.

Loss of hearing is more common among older people. Older people who wear hearing aids may find heavy traffic noisy and confusing.

Decreased mobility associated with arthritis and other conditions is a road safety issue among older people. Average walking speeds drop significantly with age, and this means that more time is needed to cross the road safely.

Loss of balance can be a problem for older people. To compensate for this older people tend to move more slowly and less confidently.

Response time to avoid traffic dangers can increase as people age. This varies greatly between individuals.

Many seniors are required to take medications for illnesses and on-going ailments. Some medications can affect a person’s ability to respond quickly to dangerous situations.

Tips for older drivers

  • Plan your outings to avoid heavy traffic, particularly peak hour times.
  • Avoid driving at night or in bad weather, or get someone else to drive.
  • Scan the road ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to react in emergency.
  • Take particular care when approaching intersections.
  • Ask your doctor about the possible effects of any medication you may be taking.
  • Have your vision tested regularly, especially if you experience sight problems.
  • Ensure your windscreen and glasses are clean at all times.
  • At night avoid looking directly into the lights of oncoming traffic.
  • Monitor your ability to drive. Volunteer for re-testing if you’re in doubt.
  • Take advice from your family, friends and doctor about continued driving.
  • Stop the car and rest at the first signs of tiredness.
  • Take a break from driving at least every two hours. Don’t wait until you’re feeling tired. Breaks from driving can prevent fatigue.

Further information can be found on the Transport for NSW website and in the booklet 'On the road 65Plus staying independent and safe'.