Elderly Driving Assessments In QLD – A Guide

SDA Blog Post GraphicsWhile many people like to feel like they’re still young as they age, it’s simply a fact of life that various physical and mental faculties deteriorate with age. Obviously, this level of deterioration varies from person to person, but none of us are immune to the advancement of aging.

When it comes to driving on Queensland’s roads, it’s vital that senior drivers are still considered safe drivers; for their own benefit, the safety of any passengers, as well as others on the roads. If you’re over 75 and still driving, you are considered a higher risk on the roads than a younger driver. Statistics show this. It is for this reason that Queensland has various regulations in place pertaining to senior drivers in particular.

Let’s take a look at what’s involved and how driving assessments for elderly drivers in Queensland can be very beneficial. This guide will give you a better understanding of the rules and regulations and what’s required of you to remain a safe driver.

Medical Certificates Are a Requirement

In Qld, the rule is that if you’re a senior driver 75 or older, you must return to your doctor at least once a year to receive a medical assessment. This assessment determines whether you are still fit to drive on Qld roads. Your medical certificate has nothing to do with the expiry date on your driver’s licence.

If you pass, a medical certificate may be granted for 12 months or, if your doctor thinks you need assessments more regularly, they may only grant a certificate valid for 3 or 6 months, depending on their determination.

Often, you’ll receive a letter from the Qld Government reminding you to take your next medical assessment so you don’t forget.

Once you’ve been issued with a medical certificate that clears you to drive, you should carry this certificate and your licence every time you’re behind the wheel of a car.

How Aging Can Affect Your Ability To Drive

One of the greatest concerns pertaining to senior drivers is their eyesight. Obviously, good vision when driving on the roads is vital. Elderly drivers can often suffer from being short-sighted or long-sighted, or even developing cataracts which will impair vision.

Senior drivers must have their eyes checked regularly to ensure their vision is adequate to drive, or whether glasses or contact lenses may be necessary to correct a problem. For some seniors, daytime driving is no issue, but they may struggle to see clearly after dark.

Another natural decline with age is a person’s reflexes and reaction time. While a driver may have had reactions like a cat when young, these reactions will likely slow considerably during the senior years.

Things like range of motion and coordination can also be affected by aging. If a driver suffers with arthritis, this can also present problems when operating a vehicle. Another faculty that can be affected is the ability to judge things like speed and distances. Information processing can also be hampered in senior drivers.

It’s in the senior driver’s best interest to seek regular check-ups with their doctor or optometrist to ensure they remain safe drivers for everyone concerned.

Actual Driving Assessments Are a Good Idea

You may even be referred by your GP to undergo an actual driver assessment, which is the same type of assessment people undergo to see if they qualify for a driver’s licence. Alternatively, as a senior driver, you don’t need to wait for a GP to suggest this. It can be a good idea to book in for an assessment with a driving school or even an occupational therapist.

The advantage of this procedure is your assessor will put you through the paces of driving and take note of everything you do, just as an assessor would when you go for a licence. At the end of your driving assessment, your instructor will be able to point out what you’re doing sufficiently and any areas that either need improvement, or could spell the end of your driving career.

Even the best drivers of any age are not perfect, so perfection won’t be expected. What will be expected though, is for a senior driver to demonstrate an overall ability to drive safely on Queensland’s roads.

Not every mistake is going to be critical to your driving career. It could just be a case of undergoing a few lessons to correct a bad driving habit that’s been developed over the years but can be overcome with professional guidance. Your assessor may notice that certain physical attributes are questionable regarding your ability to drive. A senior driver would then need to meet with their GP or other healthcare professional to determine what can be done (if anything) to rectify the issue that’s affecting their ability to drive. Alternatively, you can also work with an occupational therapist to discover ways you can adapt that will improve your driving skills.

Senior Drivers Should Also Note Feedback from Others

For example, if you’re a senior driver who regularly has passengers in the car, if they offer you some feedback on your driving skills, it’s wise to take note of what they have to say for the benefit of everyone. Maybe someone has noticed your eyes are not the best or your reaction time is slow. Whatever is noted, it should be taken seriously and looked at further to guarantee that you remain safe on the roads.

When you seek a professional driver assessment, you can even mention the feedback you’ve received from others and they’ll be able to assess whether it’s making you an unsafe driver or whether you’re still proficient enough behind the wheel of a car.

In Conclusion

Many senior drivers are still more than capable of driving a motor vehicle safely. However, it’s important to abide by the rules that affect seniors, as well as having regular check-ups with your GP, along with taking a driving assessment with a driving school or occupational therapist.

You and everyone around you will have peace of mind if you are still considered capable of driving on Queensland’s roads.


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