At 81 Hervey Bay’s Nell Thomas acknowledges that safe driving is an issue for older people but says she is still confident behind the wheel.
At 81 Hervey Bay’s Nell Thomas acknowledges that safe driving is an issue for older people but says she is still confident behind the wheel. Valerie Horton

Older drivers fear isolation

FEAR of isolation and a loss of independence could be factors that make elderly drivers hold on to their licences longer than they should.

The State Government was yesterday contemplating tough new laws which would make drivers aged over 75 renew their licence annually and take a vision test each year after a spate of car crashes involving older drivers.

Hervey Bay's Nell Thomas, 81, said she would support the new laws if they were passed because she knew some older drivers posed a risk on the road.

But she felt a lack of public transport and the fear that surrendering their licence could lead to a loss of independence could make older drivers hold on to their licences for longer.

She said she would not support a blanket ban on older drivers, such as making it compulsory to surrender a driver's licence after a certain age, because she said many older drivers were still extremely competent.

She counts herself among this number, as she drives to Brisbane regularly to visit her daughter and still feels confident behind the wheel.

But she knows there are others in the community who no longer feel confident.

She said it was up to the medical profession and the older drivers themselves to be honest about health issues or a loss of confidence that could hinder their driving.

Nell, who has been driving since she was 12 and has only received one speeding fine in an otherwise unblemished driving career, said she hoped that if her ability to drive declined she could be honest with herself and put the keys away for good.

 



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