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As New Zealand's driving population ages, police are calling on families to be vigilant and step in and stop elderly loved ones who might pose a risk on the roads.

Figures released to Fairfax Media by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) under the Official Information Act show rising numbers of older drivers hold a full licence in New Zealand.

This includes a group of 7,569 people in New Zealand aged 90 years and older who hold a full driver's licence.

With a quarter of New Zealand's population on track to be aged 65 years and over by 2030, the number of older drivers on the roads is set to surge.

National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally said age was "no more of an impairment" than alcohol, drug use or inattention, but it was a factor to be considered.

"As we all get older, our reactions times slow down and our judgement wanes as well," he said.

Superintendent Steve Greally says families need to be proactive and take action if they are concerned about an elderly family member's driving.

Greally said he had full faith in the driver licensing system administered by NZTA to provide the checks and balances necessary. "You've got to be fit to drive, irrespective of your age," he said.

Drivers must renew their licence at the age of 75 and 80 and then every two years after that.

A medical certificate has to be presented each time a person re-applied for their licence and if recommended by a doctor, a 30 minute road safety test is arranged.

"This is not an easy fix, you've got a societal dilemma here," he said.

Information on the NZTA website stated that older drivers are more likely to be injured or die following a crash than younger people.

Common crashes involving older people were fatigue related or connected to driver error, such as putting a foot on the accelerator instead of the brake.

Source:  stuff.co.nz

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