The Abertis Foundation organises a debate to improve the safety of drivers over the age of 70
29 June 2017 | Fundación Abertis |
- The experts who took part stressed that it is important not to stigmatise older drivers and limit permission to drive for age reasons, provided that the individual has the necessary psychophysical capabilities to drive.
- The Foundation organised the debate as part of its endeavours to raise awareness of and promote road safety among groups of different ages: children, young people and senior citizens.
Barcelona, 28 June 2017
The headquarters of Abertis in Madrid today hosted the “Driving at 70 and 80″ workshop, a gathering organised by the Abertis Foundation where experts on road safety debated topics such as the need for a maximum driving age and the types of control measures required to ascertain the psychophysical capabilities of older drivers.
The workshop was attended by Rosa Ramírez, Deputy Director General for Statistics Analysis and Monitoring at the Directorate General of Traffic; Jacobo Díaz, Director General of the Spanish Road Association; Luis Montoro, President of FESVIAL; Paco Canes, president of the DIA Association of Accident Victims; Josep M. Ramírez, managing director of the Guttmann Institute; Bonifacio Martín, Secretary General of the Spanish Association of Medical–Psychotechnical Centres, and Cristina Zamorano, Head of the Road Safety Centre at Autopistas; Aquilino Molinero, member of the committee of experts of the Ponle Freno (Slow Down) road safety platform; and director of the Abertis Foundation, Sergi Loughney.
Older drivers must not be stigmatised
During the debate the experts agreed that older drivers should not be stigmatised since many senior citizens needs to use vehicles in their daily lives.
Rosa Ramírez, Deputy Director General for Statistics Analysis and Monitoring at the Directorate General of Traffic, said that from the age of 75 the fatal victims of road accidents are mainly pedestrians and that older drivers lose fewer points: “young drivers are also more likely to engage in risk behaviours such as speeding and alcohol and drug consumption.” Paco Canes, president of the DIA Association of Accident Victims, also stressed the importance of “not stigmatising older people”.
Luis Montoro, President of FESVIAL, said that the accident rate among older people has been increasing in recent years, which means that decisions and action have had to be taken. However, he agreed that there was no need to impose a maximum age limit for driving provided that an individual has the psychophysical capabilities to drive, pointing out that “the World Health Organisation also recommends not preventing older people from driving unless there are reasons to do so”.
Improvement techniques and medical check-ups
Josep M. Ramírez, managing director of the Guttmann Institute, pointed out that “there are therapies today which can help older people to improve their cognitive skills behind the wheel”. “If we impose restrictions on older people we are reducing their life quality; we need to see how we can help them to improve”.
With regard to psychophysical assessments, Bonifacio Martín, Secretary General of the Spanish Association of Medical–Psychotechnical Centres, defended the current model for check-ups, which, he said, is “a global benchmark but underused and unrecognised”. Martín defended the imposition of a maximum age limit for professional licences but not for personal licences.
Luis Montoro, president of FESVIAL, advocated a reduction in the current five-year validity of a driving licence for a person over the age of 65, stating that “a vehicle that is over ten years old must be inspected annually”.
Finally, the director of the Abertis Foundation, Sergi Loughney, reiterated “Abertis’ commitment to improving road safety by carrying out initiatives aimed at drivers and pedestrians of all ages” The Foundation carries out road safety awareness and promotion initiatives for children (the KanGo! and Road Assistant projects in schools), young people (the “You only have one life” awareness-raising campaign aimed at young people enjoying a night out) and senior citizens, to whom today’s initiative is dedicated.
Infrastructure maintenance and management are key
Jacobo Díaz, Director General of the Spanish Road Association, highlighted the “enviable safety levels of the toll road network compared with the conventional network thanks to the focus on maintenance and safety management.
Cristina Zamorano, Head of the Road Safety Centre at Autopistas, emphasised that “road safety is in the DNA of all employees of Autopistas”, the Abertis Group subsidiary in Spain which covers 60% of the country’s toll road network. “Our company strives to carry out maintenance on a daily basis and to perform preventative inspections and audits. We also ensure that signage is correct and identify and carry out improvements”.
The Abertis Group and road safety
For Abertis, the world leader in the toll road sector, road safety is of paramount importance. The Group can draw on over 50 years of experience in road management and maintenance as it strives to reduce the number of victims on its network. Since 2003, Abertis has invested over €7,600Mn worldwide in the improvement and maintenance of its infrastructure. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of fatalities on Abertis’ network fell by 24% and the number of accidents by 12%.
Furthermore, the Group carries out education and awareness-raising campaigns in all the countries where it is present via its road safety programme and the Abertis Foundation. The Road Assistant and KanGo! projects in Spain, the Autoroute Académie programme in France and the School project in Chile and Brazil are just a few of its many initiatives.
In the academic arena, Abertis funds road safety research in six leading universities around the world through its network of academic chairs set up since 2003 to promote education, research and knowledge transfer between academia and the company. Every year the Group awards the international Abertis Chair Prizes for Infrastructure Management In 2016, the International Road Safety Prize was established to recognise the best achievements in this area.
In addition, Abertis works with numerous international organisations which are working on solutions for this global problem. In 2016, the Group joined the Together for Safer Roads international coalition of leading private companies committed to improving road safety worldwide.
The Abertis Foundation is a not-for-profit entity working to mitigate the impact of the Abertis Group’s activities on the different regions and countries in which it operates. Since its establishment in 1999, the Foundation has prioritised actions related to road safety, the environment and social action, in keeping with Abertis’ strategy for Social Responsibility.