8 Jun 2016

More testing for older drivers needed - campaigner

7:31 pm on 8 June 2016

The government should cut truck numbers and let fewer older drivers have licences in order to prevent road deaths, a road safety campaigner says.

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Photo: 123rf

Eleven people died in eight crashes over Queen's Birthday weekend, the highest figure for the holiday period since 1989.

The editor of the Dog and Lemon Guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson, told Morning Report freight should be moved onto trains but age was also a factor in road deaths.

Mr Matthew-Wilson said older people should be considered at a higher risk of crashing.

"Actually, by the time you're in your 80s, you're the same risk you were when you were 15."

People should think about how they were going to get around without a car as they grew older, he said.

Grey Power Federation president Tom O'Connor said Mr Matthew-Wilson's comments were "an unfortunate generalisation" and he had never seen any science to show older drivers were a problem.

"It's easy to pick on the obvious, but the obvious is not always accurate.

"From my understanding of the situation and listening to official reports, the major causes of the road toll are inattention, alcohol and speed and I haven't heard anybody yet put it into age categories."

But he said he hadn't read data from NZTA implicating older drivers in accidents.

Figures from NZTA show in 2014, 58 out of a total of 401 drivers - or 14 percent - involved in fatal crashes were aged 65 or over.

They also show 1367 out of 13,154 of drivers involved in crashes causing injuries were aged 65 or over.

The figures do not indicate who was at fault.

However, a significant number of elderly are dying on the roads.

The official 2014 road toll shows 83 out of 294 people - or about 28 percent - killed in road crashes were aged 60 or over. These figures include drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

(Please note that an earlier version of this story referred to between a quarter and a third of the road toll involving older drivers, which conflicts with official 2014 statistics from NZTA.)

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