A survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found older drivers are more than happy to subject themselves to driving scrutiny.
The survey found that, as the nation's population ages, 86 percent of those aged 65 or older are still driving. Similarly, 84 percent of Americans aged 65 or older hold a driver's licence, compared to around 50 percent in the early 1970s.
Even at 85 years or older, 68 percent of drivers reported that they drive five or more days per week.
But rather than resist attempts to take their licences away as their skills deteriorate, senior drivers support tougher driving laws for all motorists, including themselves.
Over 70 percent of respondents support medical screening for older drivers and the same figure support driver’s licence renewals “in person”.
The majority of elderly drivers surveyed believe wireless devices should be banned behind the wheel for all drivers, and that even first-time drink driving offenders should be subject to an ignition interlock.
It seems more than half are practicing what they preach, as 65 percent of drivers aged over 75 report never using a mobile phone while driving.
Their ‘younger’ peers tell a slightly different story, with 52 percent of those aged 65-69 admitting they use a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
Nearly 90 percent of drivers aged over 65 reported no collisions or no traffic infringement notices over the last two years.
"Even though public perception tends to unfairly characterise seniors as a menace on the road, these findings indicate that older Americans tend to support policies to keep themselves safer behind the wheel,” AAA’s Peter Kissinger said.
While older drivers in the US may support tougher licence conditions, a Queensland University Of Technology (QUT) study in Australia found that encouraging older drivers to ‘self-regulate’ their driving posed less problems and was less-discriminatory than age-based testing regimes.
The next step for the AAA is a long-term study of more than 3000 older drivers, whose driving habits will be monitored over the next five years.
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