Warrnambool’s Joy Irvine, 80, says ability — not age — should be the determining factor in how long people can continue to hold a driver’s licence.DON’T be telling Joy Irvine she’s too old to drive.
Nanjing Night Net

The plucky 80-year-old is more than capable of chauffeuring herself around Warrnambool in her 1997 Toyota Camry, thank you very much.

Mrs Irvine is just one of the older drivers the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is seeking feedback from in a new age discrimination awareness survey to find causes and solutions.

Launched yesterday in partnership with Australia’s Council on the Ageing, the survey asks for older drivers’ experiences of licence retesting, medical reviews and being reported for unfit driving.

“I don’t mind retesting but I don’t think it should be age-classed,” Mrs Irvine told The Standard.

“Anybody who has a medical condition certainly needs retesting.

“But I don’t want to see it age-related.”

As long as people have the mental capacity to drive they should be granted the dignity to make those decisions for themselves, the Warrnambool resident said.

“I hope I’ve got enough sense to realise when I can no longer drive,” Mrs Irvine said.

“But I will hand in my licence, I will not have it taken from me.”

Mrs Irvine said people’s perceptions of what constituted an elderly person were skewed and led to drivers over the age of 50 some times being unjustly treated.

“People are often put in a box regarding age or sex,” she said.

“I feel they pick on oldies. They talk about ‘aged people’ when they’re in their 60s. I’ll be called elderly now I’m 80 but I would not be called elderly at 64.”

She said road accidents related to the quality of the driver and the change in attitudes between younger and older generations.

“In 50 years of driving I’ve only ever had three fines and one bingle,” Mrs Irvine said.

“When it comes to accidents, what are the biggest causes? Speed and alcohol. Older people know, coming from the Depression, cars were not available to everybody.

“So to the older person, a car is a privilege. To the younger person, a car is a right.”

Mrs Irvine conceded the time would come when she would have to hang up her keys but for now she was at home behind the wheel.

“I love driving,” she said.

“I hope I have enough sense to hand it in when I need to.”

To complete the discrimination against older drivers survey, visit http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/olderdrivers

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