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Seniors would choose cancer over loss of driver's licence

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  • Christopher Miller
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/Health/Seniors+would+choose+cancer+over+loss+driver+licence/1333102/story.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2009
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      http://www.montrealgazette.com/Health/Seniors+would+choose+cancer+over+loss+driver+licence/1333102/story.html

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      Seniors would choose cancer over loss of driver's licence


      BY BRUCE WARD, OTTAWA CITIZENFEBRUARY 26, 2009 9:01 PM


      • STORY
      • PHOTOS ( 1 )

      (image)

      Many seniors would rather hear that they have cancer than be told to
      surrender their driver's licence, according to research from McGill
      University.
      Photograph by: John Lucas, Canwest News Service

      OTTAWA — Many seniors would rather hear that they have cancer than be
      told to surrender their driver's licence, according to research from
      McGill University.

      "Older drivers tell us the day you're told, 'Hand over your licence'
      is worse than a cancer diagnosis," researcher Nicol Korner-Bitensky
      said Thursday.

      "I heard it so many times I was shocked," she said. "I couldn't figure
      it out, and when I asked why they'd tell me, 'Cancer is something that
      comes, a lot of my friends have it, there are good treatments now. But
      having my licence taken away, day one to day two, my whole life
      changes overnight.' "

      Fatalities and serious accidents have risen sharply among older
      drivers over the last decade.

      Canada Safety Council statistics show that drivers over the age of 75
      are 3 1/2 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who
      are 35 to 40 years old.

      The statistics also show that driving-related accidents are the
      leading cause of accidental death for Canadians aged 65 to 74.

      Safe driving is the focus of the Older Driver Blueprint project,
      released Thursday by the Canadian Association of Occupational
      Therapists.

      The plan, funded by the federal Public Health Agency, recommends
      refresher programs for older drivers to lessen the likelihood of
      accidents.

      "We are probably going to be the first nation that will have a
      national plan to change the crash rate we're seeing," said Korner-
      Bitensky, an associate professor at McGill University's faculty of
      medicine.

      "It is important to stress that this is not about taking away older
      drivers' freedom to drive, but rather an emphasis on injury prevention
      and increased health and well-being through a proactive, stay sharp
      approach to driving," she said.

      Refresher courses would help older drivers improve their skills in
      situations known to be high crash risks, said Korner-Bitensky.

      Older drivers are more likely to crash when turning, she said. They
      have a particularly hard time judging the speed and the gap as they
      make a left turn.

      Four-way intersections are also risky, she said.

      "We know older people are more likely to run red lights and stop signs."

      There are now about three million older drivers on the road, and
      seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population.

      © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
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