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Driving at old age

Laura Gosemann

When should driving licences be revoked?

Driving a car for seniors is a recurrent topic of discussion. It can endanger both the drivers themselves and their fellow human beings, yet older people rarely want to do without their mobility and self-determination. However, although studies show that the risk of an accident increases with the age of 75, they can withdraw driving licences across the board. The following article explains how road accidents can be prevented instead.

In Germany, they generally issue driving licences for life. Other regulations apply in our neighbouring countries. For example, Spanish drivers from the age of 45 must take a driving aptitude test every ten years and from the age of 70 even after two years. In Switzerland, too, they submission such a test to the family doctor is obligatory every second year.

As a result, there are also voices in Germany calling for an age limit for driving licences. The accident figures of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) from 2015 show that around 61 percent of car drivers between the ages of 65 and 74 caused an accident themselves. If young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 drove the car, they were responsible in 65 percent of the cases. However, the highest value was recorded by drivers over 75 years of age, who in 75 percent were to blame for the accident themselves.

When considering these figures, however, it must be considered that older people are less likely to travel by car on the road and therefore cause significantly fewer accidents in absolute terms than young drivers. Therefore, lump-sum claims for an age limit cannot be supported.

Functional limitations in old age

In principle, aging is accompanied by certain functional losses, which also impact road traffic. Important parameters such as vision, hearing and responsiveness are decreasing. In addition, the acquisition and processing of information in complex situations is limited. Often such impairments are compensated by the seniors driving slower and not during rush hours, avoiding unknown routes and journeys at night and bad weather. Accidents with seniors are therefore caused by driving too fast, drink driving or daring overtaking manoeuvres, but rather by driving forward, reversing, turning or turning.

Although a high age does not always exclude driving - there are also 80-year-olds who are "fit as a sneaker" - seniors should consider the effects of medication besides age-related influences. Certain diseases or drugs can further restrict the ability to perceive and react.

Forced driving licence levy

Driving licences are often not issued until it has caused an accident. Because the older person who caused the accident is shocked himself and wants to prevent such a situation by not going behind the wheel anymore. Or he seems confused and unfocused when talking to the police. Here, the road traffic authority is informed so that traffic psychologists and doctors can then check the psycho functional performance of the person concerned. If a negative result happens, the driving licence will be withdrawn.

Prevent accidents

There are now various seminars for older road users. For example, the German Road Safety Council (DVR) provides information on all important road traffic issues as part of the "Safe Mobile" programme in old people's homes, adult education centres or associations. The ADAC also offers training for seniors lasting several hours, during which the behaviour of vehicles in borderline situations is explained.

At TÜV, a performance check of older road users can be carried out voluntarily and subject to a charge. However, since driving in old age is still considered negative, it is rare for seniors to be tested, if it costs something. There should therefore be a rethink so that a voluntary review becomes a matter.

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