An important new report published today (12/3/12) puts the case for promoting “greater and safer mobility for an ageing society in order to ensure the benefits that independent mobility can bring to quality of life”.
The report, published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) and titled ‘It’s My Choice’, looks at all aspects of public and private transport for an ageing population. It has been and authored by Naomi Baster, PACTS’ policy and research officer.
The report was commissioned in response to concerns that, while discussions about an ageing population have focused on pensions and social care, little thought has been given to the impact of population change on mobility and the independence arising from it.
The number of 70+ year olds holding a driving licence, for example, has risen from 15% in 1975 to nearly 60% in 2010. Furthermore, 80% of people aged 60-69 years hold licences and many will continue to drive for the next 20 years. More than 80% of 30-39 year olds are licence holders and many of these will drive until at least 2050. The report therefore concludes that older road users are here to stay and that a national strategy for an ageing population is vital.
PACTS says that a strategy is especially important as reductions in casualties among older drivers have not been as great as for all road users.
For example, between 2000-2010 the number of pedestrians of all ages killed or seriously injured (KSI) has reduced by 41%. However, for the age groups 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ the reductions in KSIs are 37%, 40%, and 33% respectively.
In the same period KSIs among car occupants of all ages fell by 54%, while in the older age groups detailed above the KSI reductions are 44%, 43% and 16%.
The report also draws a distinction between road users who are at risk, and those who pose a risk to others. As older road users tend to be in the former group it is essential that planning decisions are ‘health-checked’ and that the medical profession is more effective in giving advice on both physical and mental fitness to drive, says PACTS.
The report also suggests that while there are good examples of local interventions to help older drivers, there should be a national course designed for older road users – and that support should not be affected by the geography of where you live.
Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said “Over the next decade the balance of the population in this country will change. Older people need to be kept mobile and safe.
“I hope that this report will generate a national discussion about the state of our pavements and the relevance of self-regulation when it comes to giving up your driving licence. We need to move beyond seeing older people as a problem to viewing them as contributing to a mixed society.”
Click here to access ‘It’s My Choice’.