Rise in seniors' driving accidents worry police
Ontario Provincial Police want people to watch out for their elderly loved ones who drive
OPP in the northeast report that 30 per cent of fatal traffic accidents in the region involve drivers over the age of 55 — a trend they say will only get worse as baby boomers age.
OPP Inspector Mark Andrews said he's dealt with a number of driving problems involving seniors over the years and thinks it’s a good idea families keep an eye on elderly loved ones who drive.
It can be a life-changing conversation to have with an elderly loved one, he noted.
"I've had people say to me when I've told them we're having you re-tested, they basically say 'well you're going to kill me. You're ending my life. If you take away my vehicle, you take away my licence, you're ending my life.’ And that's a heart-wrenching thing, because we're trying to save their lives," Andrews said.
Doctors need to be diligent
At 63, Raymond Bissonnette and his wife are already taking precautions to ensure they don't become dangerous drivers.
Bissonnette said he dreads the day he has to give up his licence, adding that the geographic sprawl of Sudbury makes getting around more difficult than in big cities with lots of public transit.
"To get to the bus, I physically can't do it," Bissonnette said.
"So if I didn't have a driver's licence, just to get to take a bus to bring me to a doctor's appointment or whatever, would become difficult. It's a very delicate situation so a driver's licence is very important."
While family members should do their part to ensure their older relatives are taking the necessary precautions when driving, Andrews said doctors should be more diligent in issuing medical licence suspensions for patients who are no longer able to drive.
"It is almost to the point now where our senior collisions are ranking with our young people, our teenage collisions," he said. "When I see that imbalance, it is becoming an issue and we have to do something to really make sure it's safe on the highways."