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Too old to drive: The facts about elderly drivers in Canada

Who has the most accidents per km in Canada? According to a report from 2013, it's not the teens you'd think it was. In fact, it's more likely to be elderly drivers who cause accidents on the roads.

Every year, around 3.5 million drivers over the age of 65 head out on the roads in the country, which is the highest number of seniors driving in history. Should the provinces have tougher licensing criteria for these older drivers? At the moment, only those who are 80 or older have to take a written test every two years and to renew their licenses. Interestingly, and possibly dangerously, there are no in-car driver tests required by law.

What's most disturbing about that is that it's seniors who are the most likely to cause accidents per kilometer they drive. They also have high insurance rates similar to rates expected for males who have just been licensed.

The problem with adjusting the criteria for the elderly and older drivers is that not all people have a problem. Some people may drive safely at 90 while others struggle at 68. However, age does make a difference; it makes you more prone to suffering from medical issues or having other problems behind the wheel.

Because age and illness are linked, it's not a stretch to say that as you become older, you're more likely to suffer an illness that makes it harder to drive. Or, your illness could impact your driving ability and skills. For instance, a long-term diabetic may be losing sensation in the legs due to damage caused over time, and this means that he or she may be unable to tell how much pressure is being put on the brake or gas pedals. That in itself could lead to an accident.

For people to drive safely, testing may need to be a requirement. If you're struck by an elderly driver with a medical condition likely to affect his or her driving, you may be able to claim against that person for causing your injuries.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Who has the most accidents per km of driving? (Hint: It's not teens)," Jessica Leeder, accessed June 15, 2016

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