The chance of drivers aged 60 or more being involved in serious crashes may seem low compared with the rest of the adult community, until you realise they don’t travel as far as other drivers. Per kilometres driven, older drivers are more at risk than drivers in most other age groups. Although senior drivers have fewer collisions, when they are involved in crashes they may experience more serious injuries and take longer to recover.
Drivers aged over 80 must have medical clearance to renew their licence.
is the maximum speed for mobility scooters.
in 2015 and 2 in 2016 pedestrians killed were aged 80+.
Renewing your licence
Once you reach the age of 80, you must undergo an annual medical assessment before you can renew your licence. Mandatory practical driving assessments are no longer required by drivers aged 85 and older, unless recommended by a medical professional.
Mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs
Mobility scooters or devices give independence to people who have difficulty walking due to a physical condition. However, mobility scooters are not meant to be used as a replacement for a motor vehicle.
Users of motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters are classed as pedestrians under current traffic laws, provided the maximum speed of the equipment is 10 km/h. Some devices are capable of travelling faster than 10 km/h and these must be registered as vehicles.
Mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs are allowed to travel on:
- shared paths
- the sides of roads if there is no footpath.
There are currently no laws prohibiting or governing the use of mobility scooters by people who do not have limited mobility.
Driving and your health
There are many different conditions which can affect you when driving or using the roads as a pedestrian.
Check warning labels on medication and don't drive if the medicine causes sleepiness, nausea, blurred or double vision, dizziness and shaking. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about the effects of your medication.
Whether you are using the roads as a driver or as a pedestrian, vision naturally deteriorates as we age. It is important to wear spectacles if they have been prescribed and to also have regular eye checks.
Some seniors may experience reduced flexibility and slower reaction time. These factors can also affect driving ability and your safety as a pedestrian. In addition, hearing problems, dementia and heart disease may also impact on a senior’s ability to drive safely or use the roads as a pedestrian.
The discussion of safe driving with an older relative or friend can be a sensitive topic. The following check list courtesy of NZTA may help distinguish between one off and frequent behaviours by older drivers:
- They mention they're not as confident as they once were
- They’re having difficulty turning to see when reversing
- They’re easily distracted
- Other drivers honk their horns
- You notice scratches or dents on their car, mailbox or garage
- They get visibly agitated or irritated while driving
- They drive too fast or too slowly for the conditions
- They fail to spot a hazard (such as a pedestrian running across the road)
- They rely on a co-pilot (a passenger giving them instructions while driving)
- They have had a 'near miss'
- They fail to keep within their lane
- They have received an infringement offence notice (traffic ticket)
- They get lost in familiar places
- They’re involved in a crash in which they have some degree of fault
- They fail to stop at a stop sign or red light
- They confuse the accelerator and brake pedals
- They stop in traffic for no apparent reason.