The DGT are urging elder people to “tell the truth” during medical checkups, in order to try to reduce the risk factor for the elderly behind the Wheel.
Statistically, 30% off all road fatalities in Spain are from the over 65 age group. In the data collated for 2013, the last year for which complete data is available, 476 of the 1,680 people who lost their lives on the road were over 65, and half of them were pedestrians. A total of 10% of all road incidents in Spain involve somebody over the age of 65.
In a conference this week held by the Fundación Abertis which focussed on driving practices of the over 70´s, the Director General of Traffic, María Seguí, detailed how in 2013 the death rate for those between 65 and 74 had increased by 2%, but in the 75 to 85 age group, the death rate fan fallen by 13%.
Seguí continued to explain that although 10% of all incidents involve a person over 65, the death rate is 30%, partly due to the fact that elderly people are frailer and the consequences are more severe as a result.
Seguí also pointed out that the DGT has in interest in ensuring the right to mobility to everybody, whatever your age, there are heightened health concerns which become apparent with advanced years, explain that the driver´s license is “not black and white”, as there are intermediate forms with restrictions depending on the capabilities and state of health of the driver, prompting the call for honesty during health checks.
It is important to make sure that medics are fully aware of problems that may lead to difficulties when driving, as well as a personal responsibility to check that and prescription medication being taken does not interfere with the ability to drive.
“Our goal is that everyone can travel safely”, Seguí continued, explaining how there are currently 200,000 drivers over the age of 65 in Spain, many of whom have 50 years of driving experience. However, the very concept of driving has changed so much during that period, including roads, vehicles, signs and more, that driving today is very different than when many first obtained their license.
Although many of those drivers enjoy the freedom to travel around the country at their leisure, most of whom do so without incident, it is the role of the DGT to reduce the risk for everybody, hence the urge for older drivers to be aware of their own responsibilities.
Medically speaking, Director of Madrid´s National Centre for Cardiovascular Research, Valentí Fuster, points out that there are no age limits to driving, but “the biology of each person is different and you have to be careful with set limits, it´s a matter of personal responsibility”.
Of course problems driving are far from exclusive to the elderly, more and more there are incidents of drivers travelling the wrong way along motorways or one-way streets, confusion over new road elements such as roundabouts, higher speed and busier streets, a heightened awareness is vital, as is paying closer attention when on the road, as well as health matters which may go unnoticed, such as deteriorating eyesight, mobility problems and the aches and pains of maturity that combined can lead to distraction or disaster, depending on the severity of the situation drivers deal with every day.