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Stigma against older drivers still prevalant

A Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has launched a report into the issue of age discrimination against older drivers.

RUTH CLAYTON December 3, 2012 4:22am

A study has revealed a stigma against older drivers being bad drivers is still prevalent despite statistics showing this is not the case.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, in partnership with the Council on the Ageing, on Wednesday launched a report into the issue of age discrimination against older drivers.

Acting commissioner Karen Toohey said one of the key themes which persisted in the research was around the stigma still attached to ageing.

She said in Victoria each year many older people were required to provide evidence they were safe on the roads because they had been reported as a risk on the roads by family members, health professionals or people on the street.

‘‘For some people this is a genuine issue, but many who spoke to us had done nothing to be considered a risk other than be seen as being old,’’ Ms Toohey said.

‘‘These attitudes are evidence that ageism and age discrimination remain significant issues in our community.’’

Other key issues revealed in the report included being required to undergo medical testing or review in situations where it did not seem warranted, only being allowed to renew their licence for three-year periods, being treated unfairly by members of the public, being dealt with unfairly by officers at VicRoads and being treated unfairly by Victoria Police.

Ms Toohey said people should be able to stay on the road for as long as they were safe to do so, without being subjected to discrimination and unnecessary intervention.

‘‘People who had their licence suspended or cancelled can’t access the services they need, visit friends and family or participate generally,’’ Ms Toohey said.

‘‘One respondent said they had to give up their car and home and live in a hostel.

‘‘These stories highlighted why it is so important that we get it right,’’ Ms Toohey said.

Echuca RSL president Jim Molyneaux said he did not believe there was widespread discrimination against older drivers, but there were things said about older drivers which were not true.

Mr Molyneaux said there was a stigma older drivers were less careful than younger drivers.

‘‘I think the older drivers are more careful, more vigilant, have a lot more concentration and are not in such a hurry as the younger ones,’’ he said.

■Take our online poll (right): Do you think older drivers are being unfairly discriminated against?

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