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Why are older drivers stigmatised?

Posted on Sep 26, 09:21PM | IANS

Why are older drivers being stigmatised as unsafe when they are actually involved in fewer accidents than other age groups, asks a geriatrician.

Older drivers are more cautious than other road users, but the stigma "refuses to die", Desmond O'Neill, professor and consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, has argued.

O'Neill said that evidence points to older drivers not only having an enviable crash record, but they also raise traffic safety among other generations. He said the risk of serious injury to children is halved if they are driven by grandparents rather than parents, the British "Medical Journal Online" reports.

"Yet the belief that older drivers pose a disproportionate risk to other road users refuses to die. A recent report from a UK parliamentary charity "overstates the risk of older drivers and recommends training for them, an unnecessary measure of dubious value," said O'Neill, according to the "Telegraph".

O'Neill cited Danish research which showed that once a thinking and memory test was included in the medical screening examination for older drivers, the rate of pensioners dying in car crashes did not drop. Besides, the number of seniors killed on the roads when walking or cycling actually increased, he said.

He said car safety features should be improved to protect the elderly in the event of a crash.