November 28, 2003

Experts discuss needs of aging drivers

Ottawa, Ontario – Experts from senior groups, research centres, government and industry gathered in Ottawa this week for a discussion forum on the needs of aging drivers. The inaugural Driver Mobility Forum was sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

“Aging drivers are, as a group, very safe drivers,” said David Flewelling, President of CAA. “However, we need to understand that as we get older, our needs change, and this holds true for driving, too. CAA recognized that we needed to open up a dialogue and determine new strategies for dealing with the needs of this growing demographic group. We hope that our Driver Mobility Forum will serve as a catalyst for education and action by bringing different interest groups together to discuss the human factors and the need for innovation in design and infrastructure, and to identify the additional research needed into this issue. We also hope to jumpstart discussion between different groups on the issues facing aging drivers in Canada, and work towards solutions.”

The two-day forum launched the CAA’s aging drivers public outreach program. Future CAA aging driver initiatives include the January launch of a self-rating test for all drivers to rate their current driving abilities and determine which areas might need to be refreshed, and a guide for families to use as a resource when dealing with the needs of an aging driver. The CAA advocates ability-based testing for licensing, rather than age-based licensing.

In Canada, the number of citizens aged 65 years and over has grown significantly since 1991. According to 1995 data, this age group represents 12% of the country’s total population, and projections by Statistics Canada indicate this age group is expected to reach 20% by 2026 and 23% by 2041.

“The issue of aging drivers is not only a traffic safety issue, but also an emerging public policy and health issue,” continued Mr. Flewelling. “We hope that through the decisions at this forum, new programs and initiatives will be developed to help aging drivers in Canada. Working with partners, we can begin to make the roadways safer for everyone.”

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