Evaluation of the Older Driver Licensing System in NSW

The George Institute is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the older drivers licensing system in NSW, in response to key recommendation of the NSW Government Older Driver Taskforce.

This evaluation aims to assess the effectiveness and impact of the current NSW older driver licensing system on road safety, mobility and quality of life of older drivers. The study includes analysis of licensing and crash data, qualitative studies to elucidate perspectives of older drivers, family members or carers of older drivers and stakeholders about the effectiveness and impact of the licensing system, as well as panel surveys of older drivers and family members or carers of older drivers.

The NSW Government convened an Older Drivers Taskforce in November 2011 to determine if the licensing rules for drivers over 75 should be revised. After an extensive look at crash and medical evidence, the taskforce found that the current approach to licensing strikes the right balance between mobility for older drivers and safety for all road users.

While the yearly medical assessment after the age of 75 is mandatory, drivers aged over 85 can choose to retain an unrestricted licence by taking an on-road driving assessment every two years or obtain a modified licence without a formal test. The modified licence limits the radius of travel from the person’s home to enable them to drive to access local services including shopping, community activities and medical appointments.

The number of drivers aged over 85 years is increasing, and the evidence has clearly shown that as the number of older drivers on our roads increases, so too does the risk of more crashes for this group. This group has the highest percentage of driver casualties who are killed of all age groups.

One of the key issues for older drivers is dementia and the risk this poses to road safety. Dementia becomes a growing risk with age, and one that can affect a person’s judgment and ability to drive safely due to loss of memory, limited concentration or sight problems. Health risk such as this need to be monitored closely, to ensure older drivers and other road users are safe.

Results from the evaluation will identify key issues and considerations about the current licensing system.