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In a report by The Sun Daily, the Road Safety Council (MKJR) of Malacca recently proposed that driving licence holders aged 50 years and above be required to undergo health screenings as a precautionary measure against unsafe driving, similar to that in developed countries.

Malacca MKJR secretary Ghafar Misdar tabled the proposal during the annual general meeting (AGM) of the National Road Safety Council, which drew support from Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi.

However, Aziz was of the opinion that such a safety programme for older drivers should involve those aged 65 years and above instead of 50. He added that as a starting point, a test for eyesight be required for affected drivers.

“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 said.

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Aziz also touched upon a recent policy by the Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool (MMIP), whereby insurance coverage will not be provided to commercial vehicle drivers aged above 65 years. “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.

The proposal is deemed timely due to the increasing number of drivers among senior citizens lately, which would continue to rise in the foreseeable future, according to Ghafar.

“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 said. Health screenings would provide a benchmark to determine the capability of older drivers in spite of common age-related health symptoms.

Beyond discussions on the mandatory health screenings for older drivers, the Malacca MKJR also proposed at the AGM that urine tests be conducted for new driving licence holders.

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“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 explained.

In the end, the proposal for mandatory health screening for older drivers was rejected by the AGM, and will require some fine tuning before it is discussed in next year’s AGM. On the other hand, the urine test proposal was accepted, and will be brought up to the Transport Ministry for further consideration.

What do you think of the proposals discussed at the the National Road Safety Council? Should older drivers be required to undergo mandatory health screenings to determine their capability behind the wheel? Must new driving licence holders undergo urine tests? Let us know what you think in the comments below.