Drivers over 70 generally have good driving habits. However, while older drivers are involved in relatively few crashes, in terms of crashes per kilometre driven they are second only to young drivers.
Unlike young drivers, however, people over 70 are more prone to suffering injuries in collisions.
As we age, reaction times, perceptions (including eyesight and hearing) and judgement deteriorate. This happens to all of us to some extent, no matter how extensive or trouble-free our previous driving experience. Health problems may also affect older people. Extra vigilance is needed to compensate for these changes.
Licence renewal requirements applying from age 75 mean that your health, vision and driving skills are regularly checked, both for you own safety and the safety of other road users.
During the month of your 75th birthday you will need to renew your licence at a driver licensing agent. To renew your licence you need to get a medical certificate (which includes an eyesight test) from a doctor.
The Older Driver Test
You will notice some changes to the the test, including regularity. The new drivers licence is only valid for 2 – 5 years. The renewal fees are cheaper due to the frequency of renewal, you will need a medical certificate each time you apply. Your doctor may recommend that you need to sit a onroad safety test which will take about 30 mins, in order to have your licence renewed.
Tips for Safe Driving
- Because people's eyesight and hearing deteriorate as your age, it is important to have regular check-ups.
- Plan trips well in advance. It is a good idea to avoid busy periods of traffic or bad weather.
- Fatigue can be avoided by taking frequent breaks and not driving at night.
- On its own,a relatively small amount of alcohol can slow reactions, reduce concentration and impair judgement. As these skills are already in decline in the older, it is important to be aware of this. The effects of alcohol can be much greater if some types of medication are being used.
- Care should be taken in the choice of medicines by those wishing to drive. Ask your doctor about the effect on driving of medication you may be using.
- Scan the road and allow plenty of time to react to the unexpected.
Transport and Total Mobility Scheme
Transport often becomes an issue for elderly, especially when people cannot drive. Some assistance may be available for this.
The Total Mobility Scheme provides subsidised Taxi fares to those who have disabilities affecting their mobility. Under the Total Mobility Scheme people with serious mobility constraints might qualify for a taxi subsidy of up to 50%.
It is part funded by Land Transport NZ and can be accessed through local Total Mobility providers.
Mobility Parking Permits
The Mobility Parking scheme provides a special card which is displayed on the dashboard of a vehicle. Cardholders are entitled to use:
- Accessible car parks (outlined in yellow and displaying the symbol).
- Standard car parks and metered spaces for longer than stated times.
- Time restricted zones e.g. P15, P120 for longer than stated times.
Membership of the scheme is open to people who:
- Are unable to walk and rely on a wheelchair for mobility.
- Rely on mobility devices (e.g. crutches,walking sticks, splints or walking frames) or
- Are unable to walk 200m unassisted because of the nature/severity of the condition.
The Mobility Parking Permit Scheme is run by NZCCS.
Mobility Scooter Assistance
Also people with mobility issues affecting quality of life might be eligible for a grant via the NZ Lotteries Board to purchase a mobility scooter. They can find an application pack at www.community matters under the heading individuals
Travel Assistance for Health Related Care
Financial help for Travel and Accommodation can be provided by the Ministry of Health in special circumstances.
if you are referred to a hospital specialist or specialist centre some distance away, you may be eligible to receive travel assistance. The National Travel Assistance Scheme takes some financial pressure off patients who need to travel to other regional health services for treatment.
Applicants must meet criteria on the distance travelled and accommodation but in some cases the scheme can pay up to 100 per cent of claims.
To find out more go to www.moh.govt.nz.
As there are a number of "exclusions" to this scheme, enquiries should be made to the Ministry of Health to check on eligibility.