Saturday, July 2, 2016

Malaysia - Proposal to screen health of drivers over 50 years old

GENTING HIGHLANDS: The Road Safety Council (MKJR) of Malacca has proposed driving licence holders who are 50 years old and above should undergo health screening as part of the measures to curb unsafe driving.

The motion was tabled this morning by Malacca's MKJR secretary Ghafar Misdar at the 57th annual general meeting of the National Road Safety Council held at Awana Genting, which was attended by over 350 delegates nationwide.

In an immediate response, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi, while agreeing there should be such a safety programme for older drivers, said "ideally it should start from 65, maybe for a start we can do a test for eyesight."

"Fifty years old is too young. This proposal for older drivers needs to be studied carefully. At the ministry level, it can be considered but we need to get (feedback from) all stakeholders before we can make a decision," he told theSun.

Following the recent policy by Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool (MMIP) of not providing insurance coverage to commercial vehicle drivers above 65, Aziz said the MMIP move could pave the way for a specific programme for older drivers.

"The MMIP move was a cue for the authorities to have a thorough discussion about a future policy for drivers consisting of senior citizens," he said.

Stating that Malaysia should adopt the practice of health screening for older drivers similar to that in developed countries, Ghafar said the suggestion was timely given the over-representation of drivers among senior citizens emerging lately and which would continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

"No disrespect to older drivers with long experience in driving but this is an important proposal because they seem to be at higher risk of collisions because of functional impairments," he told theSun after the AGM.

He said the health screening could be the yardstick to determine the capability of older drivers in view of many health symptoms often related to ageing people such as diabetes, high blood pressure, eyesight limitation, kidney problem and other non-communicable diseases.

In addition, Malacca MKJR also proposed that urine tests be conducted for new driving licence holders.

"There are two risky groups on the road – the young drivers especially motorcyclists because of their risky driving behaviour, and older drivers with their greater physical frailty and vulnerability to injury when involved in a collision," Ghafar added.

After a lengthy debate among the delegates, the proposal for mandatory health screening for older drivers was rejected by the AGM.

The National Council then requested Malacca MKJR to fine tune the suggestion to be discussed in next year's AGM.

However, the National MKJR has accepted the urine test proposal for new licence holders and it will be brought up to the Transport Ministry for consideration.

Last week, an 86-year-old driver and his foreign maid escaped injuries after a car they were in plunged into a construction hole of a sewerage project in Petaling Jaya.

It was speculated that the driver was unable to spot the plastic barricade near the hole and couldn't respond swiftly before veering into the 10m-deep hole.

Shahrim Tamrin

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