Tags: screening | older | drivers

Medical Screening of Older Drivers ‘Misguided’

Thursday, 27 Sep 2012 11:21 AM


Could medical screenings of older drivers reduce accident risks and boost road safety? A new report in the British Medical Journal says the answer is “no,” arguing that such screening is misguided, unnecessary and would have no effect on highway safety.
Desmond O'Neill, a geriatric and stroke specialist at Trinity College Dublin, argues that older drivers not only have an enviable car-crash record, but studies have also shown they raise traffic safety among other generations: the risk of serious injury to children is halved if driven by grandparents rather than parents.
"Yet the belief that older drivers pose a disproportionate risk to other road users refuses to die," O’Neil said.
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Several factors contribute to this falsehood, such as confusing increased risk of death because of fragility with crash risk, and concerns that age-related cognitive impairment and dementia might justify mass screening of older drivers, he said.
But O’Neill noted a recent study of the Danish government’s decision to add a cognitive screening test to the medical screening test for older drivers did not reduce the rate of older people dying in car crashes, but significantly increased the rate of older pedestrians and cyclists killed.
"This hazardous shift from protected [drivers] to unprotected [pedestrians and cyclists] mirrors that found in previous studies on medical screening," O'Neill said, and "should quench the misguided thirst for screening and direct our attention to the real health issues facing our older patients who drive."
Rather than mass screening, "we should focus on evidence-based innovations, such as restricted licensing and rehabilitation, for people with age-related illness," he added. "This is the best approach to protect the safe mobility, and avoid further unhelpful stigmatization, of a group whose ranks most of us will join in due course."
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Screenings of older drivers does not reduce accident risks or boost road safety, research shows.
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2012-21-27
Thursday, 27 Sep 2012 11:21 AM
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