Testing of older drivers welcomed

Madeleine Edwards, Castlemaine 

A while ago my adult son and I were crossing Hargraves Street toward the Theatre Royal. Without warning, at full speed, a small red car reversed out of the angle park into the middle of the road. Terrified, we had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over.
If my son had still been a small child, he would not have been able to jump quickly and would probably have been killed.
Distressed, I went around to the driver’s side, banged on the window and shouted, “You nearly ran over my son!”. What was striking was the complete lack of any appropriate response from the driver, a woman who appeared to be in her 80s. She looked vaguely surprised and distracted, said nothing and drove away. Unfortunately, I didn’t get her number.
What is striking about all the recent incidents in the area involving elderly drivers is that the behaviours are erratic, unpredictable and appear to indicate lack of understanding on how to control a car. What is surprising is that no one has been killed or injured, given that most of them have involved the car ending up on a footpath, or even inside a shop. Cognitive decline in the elderly is common.
Perception and other faculties become impaired. Drivers over 65 have the highest rate of accident of any age group. Having just turned 65 myself I would not object to all older drivers, maybe 75 and over, being tested annually. It would be wildly inconvenient and annoying but might save lives. Elderly patients can present quite well at a medical appointment, giving the doctor no way of judging their capacity to drive. When I get to that stage I would rather be tested than be responsible for the death of a young person.

Lisa Dennis
Editor of the Castlemaine Mail newspaper and senior journalist on our sister paper the Midland Express. Over the last 24 years Lisa been proudly reporting news in the Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges communities.