Older road users

As people age they generally adapt well to any loss or reduction in sensory abilities, such as  vision and hearing. However, increasing age may affect peoples' physical fragility, perception of and response to hazards and their ability to recover from injury.

The older we get  the more likely we are to have health conditions or take medications that  affect our safety as road users. Medications can change your perception of hazards, reaction time, judgement and decision making skills when in the road  environment.

Older drivers

Older drivers are involved in a small number of crashes, however, these crashes are of higher severity, probably because of the increased frailty of these people.

Older drivers have been shown to be more cautious and to exhibit less illegal and dangerous driving behaviour than other age groups, and there is evidence that older drivers self-regulate to avoid risky situations and times of day.

Common crash types for older drivers, are right turn crashes and crashes due to disobeying a traffic signal or sign.

The use of safer vehicles could provide benefits for older drivers particularly in providing  increased protection when a crash occurs. Improvements to the road environment are also important, for example lower speed limits and controlled phases at traffic signals would prove beneficial for older drivers.

Improved public transport will be important to older people, to maintain mobility and access to services, without the need to drive.

Pedestrians

Older pedestrians have a higher risk of collision with road vehicles. This can be due to:

  • deteriorating hearing, vision or balance
  • reduced mobility and slower reaction times due to age
  • medications that may cause dizziness, drowsiness or impaired judgement.

Many elderly people also have a greater reliance on walking and are therefore more likely to be exposed to traffic as pedestrians than younger age groups.

If an older person is hit by a car, the outcome is likely to be more severe resulting in a fatality rather than an injury.

Crashes involving older pedestrians occur mainly on routine trips to local shops and recreation activities, often close to the person's home.

Moving Right Along workshops

Moving Right Along: Obligations and Opportunities for Older Drivers is a program that encourages safer, greener and more active travel for older South Australians.

Workshops and a series of information sheets are available on:

  • maintaining the ability to drive safely and effectively for longer
  • the effects that ageing, medical conditions and medications have on driving
  • maintaining mobility and preparing to drive less or giving up driving altogether
  • helping a family member or friend face the issue of reducing or giving up driving
  • fitness to drive, the Driver Medical Assessment and Practical Driving Assessment
  • the legal obligations of licensed drivers in South Australia
  • motorised mobility scooters.

Further information about the Moving Right Along Program can be found at
www.movingrightalong.sa.gov.au

More information:

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