Rights on the road: discrimination against older drivers

Why we undertook the research

The ability to drive is important for many older people’s independence. The freedom it provides when public transport options are limited contributes to social connectedness and areas of life including health and wellbeing, social participation, access to employment, health care, cultural life, and community involvement.

In Victoria, self-reporting and third party reporting obligations require drivers, professionals, family and community members to make a report to VicRoads if they are concerned about someone’s ability to drive safely. While for some, declining driving skills are a genuine issue, concerns were raised from the Commission’s previous research: Rights in Focus: Report on the rights of older Victorians that in some circumstances ageism and age discrimination may be leading some people to make these reports to is unwarranted circumstances, leading to unnecessary testing and reviews of older drivers’ licences.

For these reasons, the Commission, in partnership with the Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA), researched older drivers’ experiences in being unfairly treated because of their age.

The survey

We conducted a survey to hear from people about things such as being reported for unfit driving, licence re-testing and medical review, and the role of family members, health professionals, and police in these processes. The Commission received 445 responses to the survey, which was a fabulous response, and we would like to thank all who participated.

We also consulted with key informant organisations to hear more about the issue, including COTA, VicRoads, the Monash University Accident Research Centre, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Australian Driver Training Association.

The Commission would like to thank these organisations and all those who shared their stories with us.

The report

The report of the research, Rights on the road: the experiences of older Victorian drivers, was launched on 28 November 2012 at COTA’s Annual General Meeting.

Download a copy of Rights on the road: the experiences of older Victorian Drivers

For more information about this project, please contact Julian Alban on (03) 9032 3435 or email research@veohrc.vic.gov.au

VicRoads response

The Commission would like to thank VicRoads for its assistance with the research, particularly in providing data on reports about fitness to drive. The report is a much more comprehensive study of what is a complex issue because of their involvement. Download the report below.

Information on age discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their actual or assumed age. Find out more about age discrimination and your rights under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
If you think you have been discriminated against because of your age, you can contact the Commission for information or to make a complaint.

You can also contact Seniors Information Victoria at COTA for support and advice on a range of issues including housing, health and wellbeing, financial and legal issues.