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J R Soc Med. 2004 March; 97(3): 157.
PMCID: PMC1079344

Reducing the toll of road traffic accidents

No doubt I shall not be the only person to rise to John Bache's bait (December 2003 JRSM1). He gives an unsubstantiated opinion that elderly drivers are a serious cause of accidents because their reaction times, memories, concentration and visual acuity are poor. May I give an equally unsubstantiated alternative view? I suggest that elderly people might not cause more accidents, because they drive more slowly, take fewer risks, are less prone to `road rage' or being provoked by it and have a life-time's driving experience behind them. Furthermore, the elderly have learned not to mix drink, drugs and driving and the drugs they take may be less hazardous than so-called recreational ones. Physical frailty is not a problem with modern cars, except for getting in and out of them (why are car doors not made hinged from the rear, as in London taxis?). I agree that requirements for driving licences need changing; for example, visual fields are as important as visual acuity, at all ages.

The only hard evidence I know of to support my view is that insurance premiums are not universally loaded against the old as they are against the young, and insurers are very knowledgeable about risk.

Conflict of interest I am 80 years of age. I try to avoid driving after dark.


1. Bache J. Reducing the toll of road traffic accidents. J R Soc Med 2003;96: 617 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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