Ottawa, Ontario – A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) has found that Canadians are only “moderately concerned” about elderly drivers as a safety issue.
“We expected more Canadians to be concerned, particularly as the population of elderly drivers is growing and will double in the next 25 years,” said Ward Vanlaar, research scientist for TIRF. “With this upward trend, issues related to the road safety of elderly drivers will become more prevalent.”
There are nearly three million elderly drivers in Canada, a number that is expected to increase to six million within 25 years. Seniors aged 65 or older account for the second-largest proportion of road deaths, behind 15- to 24-year-olds. The fatality rate for drivers aged 80 and older is 1.5 times higher than that of teenagers.
“Several factors contribute to seniors’ elevated crash risk, including age-related declines in motor reflexes and vision,” Vanlaar said. “Other factors like heart disease, stroke and dementia can also play a role, so seniors must regularly monitor their health.”
The TIRF poll asked Canadians about their level of support for various measures that could benefit elderly drivers. Of several measures proposed, three-quarters of Canadians polled agreed that elderly drivers should complete training courses to maintain their driving privileges, starting at age 70. Over 70 per cent also felt that seniors with driving difficulties should be limited to driving within a 25 km radius of their homes. However, while favouring these measures, the majority of those polled did not want to see elderly drivers stripped of their driving privileges if they caused a collision. The poll found seniors were least supportive of new training programs and restricted driving measures.