Good Driving, a Matter of Age?

Who are the best drivers? Is it young people, because of their mandatory driving course? Or seniors with their experience behind the wheel?

Young people… they’re all the same!

Have you noticed how easy it is to put all young drivers in one basket? They drive too fast, they drive while impaired, they are reckless... Is it because of the numbers from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec indicating that the 16-24 age group is overrepresented in road accidents? Maybe... Or perhaps it is due to everything we hear on the radio or see on the television. It is true that young people often make the headlines. Far too often, actually.

Too old to take the wheel?

How old is too old to drive? 70, 80, 90 years of age? Note that, again, it is easy to put all seniors in one basket. Whatever anyone claims, in any given year, people aged 75 and over are those who are least involved in accidents. Many seniors drive with confidence, caution and flexibility well into old age. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to see an elderly person struggling to get out of their vehicle. You may also know a driver who suffers from cataracts, deafness or worse, a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease. Find that worrying?

Putting an end to the witch hunt

Good Driving, a Matter of Age?Obtaining and using a driver’s license is truly a privilege, not a right, and this is true whether you are in your twenties, forties, sixties or older. Driving a car is a complex task. No matter the age of the driver, they must be aware of and conform to road safety regulations, be able to handle all the mechanisms of their vehicle and be healthy both mentally and physically.

Putting an end to the witch hunt first of all requires playing fair. To be allowed to keep their driver’s license as long as possible, seniors aged 74 and over have to comply with the law requiring them to pass a regular medical and optometric assessment, and they must report any changes in their health status to the SAAQ. In the same vein, it is incumbent to the family, friends, physician or any other competent party to promptly report any problem that may jeopardize the driver’s safety or that of others.

As for young people, the latest statistics from the SAAQ are encouraging: they show an improvement in the 2012 Road Safety Report [Fr] and a steady decline in the number of young people involved in car accidents. Let’s face it, we all know young drivers who have excellent driving skills. We can only hope that the more reckless drivers will get the message and adopt more responsible behaviour. Good driving is not a matter of age. Road safety is an issue that concerns all of us, because every victim of a traffic accident is one too many.

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