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Nearly 80% of older men in Finland still drive – but just 37% of women

Sudden illnesses become a significant risk factor for drivers after age 50, says the Finnish Road Safety Council.

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Older Finnish men are reluctant to give up their drivers' licenses. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

Inattention and sudden medical emergencies are the likeliest reasons for serious traffic accidents caused by older drivers, says the Finnish Road Safety Council (Liikenneturva).

“Intersections are among the most difficult places for the elderly,” the council’s managing director Anna-Liisa Tarvainen told the news agency STT. “Particularly when turning left, older drivers don’t necessary notice traffic on the main road in time,” she says.

According to Tarvainen, sudden bouts of illness begin to show up as significant risk factors for drivers around age 50, and account for an ever-growing share of mishaps over the following decades.

Centenarians still on the road

Regular driving licences granted now in Finland are valid for 15 years at a time. After age 65, motorists must renew their licences every five years.

After age 70, a physical exam and doctor’s report are required to renew a card to drive a passenger car. For lorry and bus drivers, this requirement kicks in at age 45.

Figures from the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi) show that 78 percent of men in Finland over age 70 still have valid driving licences, compared to just 37 percent of women of that age.

“As of early July there were 4250 licensed drivers over age 90 – including a few over 100,” Trafi researcher Riikka Rajamäki told STT.

The Population Register Centre said earlier this year that there were more than 870 people aged over 100 in Finland. That number has tripled since the turn of the millennium.

In a survey carried out last year by Trafi, about a quarter of motorists aged 85-94 said they were considering giving up their licences when they next expired, as did nearly 40 percent of those 95 or older.

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