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Focus on older drivers

Older people comprise a large sector of the driving population and increase by 25% each decade. By 2030, there will be more than half a million drivers, aged 65 years and older, on New South Wales roads. For many older members of the community, driving a car means independence and freedom, particularly in areas that are under-resourced by public transport.

Researchers are recruiting drivers over the age of 75 to join the Australian-first study into driving patterns, safety and transport needs for older drivers.

“We will observe 380 drivers by simply installing a small black box into their car to track their speed, distance and driving patterns over twelve months. Half of the participants will also receive a program about safe driving and alternatives.  The information we receive will help us understand mobility needs for older drivers”, said researcher Dr Lisa Keay.

Statistics indicate that older drivers have higher crash involvement per kilometer travelled. They are more vulnerable to injury in a crash than younger drivers. One in five crash fatalities are older Australians and for every fatality there are many more serious injuries.  

“Safety is a concern but there is a need for objective data in this area.  Little is known about the driving patterns of older Australians and we need comprehensive programs to help older people drive safely for longer. With more information we can provide support for safe mobility for older members of the community”, added Dr Keay.

The George Institute, affiliated with the University of Sydney, is currently recruiting older people to join the 12-month research study.  Participants need to be 75 years or older, have a current NSW drivers license, own a car, live within the Hills Shire in northwest Sydney and not in a retirement village.