LETTER: Seniors’ driving stats complicated

The crash risk for older drivers is complicated – no one statistic can tell this story on its own.

In response to “Seniors are safe drivers,” (March 21 edition of the  Abbotsford News):

The crash risk for older drivers is complicated – no one statistic can tell this story on its own.

On the positive side, crash volumes for senior drivers in B.C. are among the lowest of all age groups. This is due to a combination of factors, including years of experience seniors have behind the wheel and the fact that they tend to drive less than younger drivers.

However, research also indicates that older drivers tend to have high crash rates per kilometre driven. When comparing crashes per kilometre driven, the crash rate for drivers aged 75 or over was found to be similar to the crash rate for new drivers, aged 16-24.

This means that while senior drivers may drive less, they’re more at risk when they do so.

It is also important to clarify ICBC’s role in the process of reexaminations for drivers aged 80 and over.

The decision on whether a senior is allowed to continue to drive is not ours. The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles regulates drivers and makes the decision based on information provided by doctors and other healthcare professionals, police, and family members, combined with the driver’s history.

The province triggers an automatic medical at age 80 and every two years after that. Because natural age-related conditions can impact someone’s driving, medical exams are conducted by those best qualified to determine physical and cognitive needs – medical professionals. They then make driver fitness referrals as necessary.

ICBC’s role in this process is to support our customers any way we can. We educate drivers and help them through what we know is a stressful time. We understand that driving plays an important part in maintaining an independent lifestyle and that most people want to keep driving as long as possible.

 

Joy Van Helvoirt

Manager,

Driver Licensing Provincial Programs, ICBC