Calls For Doctors To Dob In Risky Older Drivers

Victoria's new traffic police boss wants to see doctors "dob in" elderly drivers who need further safety testing and evaluation, in a bid to cut the number of crashes on state roads.

Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane, who has taken over the state's traffic patrol, has raised the idea of medical professionals flagging older drivers potentially at risk of road crashes.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, Leane said he hoped to encourage doctors to report "elderly and other mot­orists they consider should not be driving", who would be referred for further testing before being allowed to keep their license.

Among a suite of other possible changes to Victorian road laws and regulations - Leane pinpointed older drivers as a major safety issue which needed more management.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Experts are pointing out that older drivers, who may be at risk of physical or mental conditions limiting their capacity to safely be on the road, may need more management and attention from authorities.

Surgeon Gratian Punch, of Lismore Base Hospital in NSW, presented research to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons annual scientific congress earlier this year, showing that deaths of drivers between 65 and 74 had increased by more than two percent each year over that period, while drivers over 75 also recorded more deaths -- the only age groups where road deaths were increasing.

(Getty Images)

Other research, including a 2012 Queensland University of Technology study, have found that older drivers are more likely to be at-risk in crashes, and more likely to be involved in incidents at give way or stop signs.

Experts are concerned that little road safety advertising material is aimed at older drivers.

Rules for older drivers in each state

Victoria

There is no set age at which an older driver needs to take an additional competence test.

"Retaining a driver licence in Victoria is determined by a person’s behaviour and medical fitness to drive, not age. Victoria does not require drivers to pass a licence test when they reach a certain age."

NSW

A medical review is required every year after age 75 to keep a drivers licence. From age 80, anyone with a heavy vehicle licence also needs a yearly driving assessment. From age 85, drivers can pass a test each year to keep an unrestricted licence, or agree to a modified licence which, as the RMS outlines, can include conditions like 'You may choose to drive only within a certain distance of your home, or only at certain times of the day'. 

Queensland

Drivers over 75 need to carry a medical certificate whenever driving, which lists any medical conditions which could affect a person's capacity to drive. This certificate must be updated each year with any new conditions, according to the state government.

Western Australia

Drivers over 80 need a medical assessment and examination each year, and doctors may recommend driving tests as well -- compulsory driving tests for those over 85 were scrapped several years ago. A poll by finder.com.au in January found WA drivers wanted driving bans on motorists over the age of 80.