What are the Issues?
There are currently a number of factors making medically at-risk drivers and management of the associated issues critically important in Alberta:
Safety - Safety for not only the medically at-risk driver but for all drivers can be severely compromised if policies and practices are not able to address appropriately the safety and mobility associated with this increasing public health problem.
Costs - Costs associated with motor vehicle crashes are continuing to increase but crashes due to medically at-risk drivers can be prevented with effective identification, evaluation, and support.
Age-based policies and practices - Traditionally, policies and practices affecting driver licensing have been based on age alone. Medical professionals, such as family physicians, lack the tools and resources, including the availability of support programs for those who are no longer able to drive, to address this growing issue appropriately.
Increasing risk of medical conditions - With Alberta’s population growth, the aging of the baby boomers, and with Albertans driving longer into their lifetime, the probability of medically at-risk drivers on our roadways increases. In addition, many of the chronic diseases traditionally associated with age are becoming health risks in younger populations.
Social implications of loss of mobility in the community -
As the number of medically at-risk drivers increase and impact drivers at increasingly younger ages, proactive planning for the safety and support for drivers and their families will become increasingly critical. Research that informs on policies and programs that can facilitate mobility and support to drivers and families when driving is no longer an option will be an important component of the MARD Centre’s strategic research agenda.