Letter: On the road

Sir: Older drivers contribute to a very small fraction of deaths from road crashes. It was with concern that I read your report (10 January) of a call from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents for regular health checks on older drivers.

Driving is of great importance to older people. Loneliness, lower life satisfaction and lower activity levels are linked with the loss of driving ability among elderly people. However, much policy on older drivers is negative, concentrating on selecting those who should not drive rather than rehabilitating and enabling those with age-related disability to continue driving.

Medical screening is a reflection of these negative policies. Not only do we lack reliable and sensitive assessment tools, but screening may also be harmful to older drivers. In Finland there is regular age-related medical certification of fitness to drive. There is no reduction in the number of older people dying in car crashes but an increase in the number of those dying as pedestrians and cyclists.

Dr DESMOND O'NEILL

Centre for Mobility Enhancement

Meath Hospital

Dublin

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