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Driving at old age

Laura Gosemann

When should driving licences be revoked?

Driving by senior citizens is always a topic of discussion. It can endanger both the drivers themselves and those around them, yet older people do not want to give up their mobility and self-determination. But even though studies show that the risk of accidents increases with the age of 75, they cannot withdraw the driving licence across the board. The following article explains how to prevent traffic accidents. In Germany, they issue driving licences for life. Different rules apply in our neighbouring countries, however. For example, Spanish drivers have to take a driving aptitude test every ten years from the age of 45 and even after two years from the age of 70. In Switzerland, too, it is obligatory to present such a test to the family doctor every second year.

Because of this, voices 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 aged 18 to 24 were driving the car, they were to blame in 65 percent of cases. The highest value, however, was recorded by drivers over 75 years of age, who had caused the accident themselves in 75 percent of the cases.

When looking at these figures, however, older people drive their cars less often and therefore cause fewer accidents in absolute terms than inexperienced dit limits the ability to absorb and process information in complex situationsl limitations in old age

In principle, it cannot be denied that ageing is accompanied by certain functional impairments, which also affect road traffic. Important parameters such as visual acuity, hearing ability and reaction time decrease. In addition, the ability to absorb and process information in complex situations is limited. Often, such impairments are compensated for by senior citizens driving more slowly and not at peak traffic times, avoiding unfamiliar routes and driving at night and in poor weather. Therefore, accidents involving senior citizens are rarely caused by speeding, drink-driving or daring overtaking manoeuvres, but when giving way, reversing, turning or turning.

Although a prime age does not always prevent driving - there are, of course, also 80-year-olds who are “fit as a fiddle” - seniors should not least consider the effects of medication besides age-related influences. Certain diseases or medicines can restrict the ability to perceive and react.

Forced surrender of driving licence

Here.Often the driving licence is only surrendered after an accident has been caused. Because the older person who caused the accident is shocked himself and wants to prevent such a situation in the future by not getting behind the wheel again. Or he appears confused and unfocused when talking to the police. Here, the road traffic authority is informed so that traffic psychologists and physicians can then check the psycho-functional capacity of the person concerned. If the result is negative, the driving licence is finally revoked.

Preventing 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 its “Sicher mobil” programme in old people’s homes, adult education centres or clubs. The ADAC also offers a training course for senior citizens lasting several hours, in which the behaviour of vehicles in borderline situations is explained.

At the TÜV, a performance check of older road users can be carried out on a voluntary basis for a fee. However, since driving at an advanced age is still viewed very negatively, it remains rare that seniors voluntarily get tested, especially if it costs something. There should therefore be a change in thinking so that voluntary testing becomes a matter of course.

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