So far 209 people have died on New Zealand’s roads this year and a quarter of them are over 60.
Statistics show that our older generation is more likely to be involved in a fatal – or injury – crash than our younger drivers.
But driving means independence and understandably our older Kiwis are reluctant to give it up.
For most of Roy Crawford’s 101 years of life, he sat securely in the driver’s seat.
But this year, almost 90 years after he first got behind the wheel, he decided to withdraw his driver’s license.
“I lost confidence in myself, I just didn’t feel good behind the wheel, I was making mistakes and all that.”
Fifty drivers over the age of 60 have already died on our roads this year, more than double the number of drivers aged between 15 and 19 and also between 20 and 24.
“Senior drivers actually have fewer accidents than junior drivers – other factors that they probably drive less and in better conditions. But what is true is that when senior drivers have an accident, they are more vulnerable and more likely to be injured,” said Roger of the AA Driving School. Venn
Once Kiwi drivers reach the age of 75, they must renew their license and a medical certificate is required. From the age of 80, their license must be renewed every two years.
But a license means independence for many older people, so it’s not easy to give it up.
But there are options. Driving Miss Daisy is a nationwide taxi service that focuses on seniors.
Monica Zwart owns the Gisborne branch and provides transport, friendship and security, making sure her client’s house is locked and escorting them to and from the car.
“They’re great people, they’re part of our community, I can help them get around, get to their appointments, and they’re still part of our community,” she told Newshub.
“As an 82-year-old woman with macular degeneration who can no longer drive, she’s a bit of an angel to me. She’s more than just a service, she’s a friend,” Ralph Walker said.
And Zwart has been known to take late night phone calls from other customers, with any important questions.
“What is the capital of the Netherlands, Holland, is Belgium near there. Yes, so there are all kinds of questions. Sometimes it’s ‘I can’t find my teeth – did I leave them in the car ?’.”
For those who are hesitant to give up their licence, Age Concern offers free Staying Safe refresher courses for older drivers and they are available nationwide.
The AA Driving School also offers a free “in-car” coaching session for members over 74 who may struggle with things they took for granted, like turning their heads to check what’s behind. .
“I encourage older drivers to become aware of themselves. Obviously as we get older we become less agile and mobile and our sight and hearing changes. So I recommend drivers to be aware of these changes and trying to adapt the way they drive or their destination to the changes in the body,” Venn said.
And if that’s too much, sometimes it’s better to slow down and downsize on a mobility scooter – 94-year-old Winnie Flavell Mott’s favorite mode of transportation.
For Flavell Mott, the mobility scooter has proven particularly valuable during lockdown.
“I would go on my scooter and my daughter would run behind me if I was going too fast.”
But Crawford said it’s important to know when it’s time to swap the driver’s seat for the La-Z-Boy.