This Thursday (25th), the Office of The Ombudsman issued a proactive investigation report, recommending standardization of the physical certification for elderly drivers to apply for a driving license. In particular, professional drivers should specify stricter physical requirements and explore ways to facilitate physical examinations.
The report’s related recommendations are reasonable, but the government can actually take advantage of the trend to promote medical vouchers and popularize primary care.
The Office of the Ombudsman made four recommendations to the Transport Department in the report, including specifying specific inspection items and providing guidelines for medical personnel; formulating an inspection system and setting stricter requirements for commercial vehicle drivers of designated ages; strengthening publicity and education for drivers ; And explore ways to facilitate the physical examination of commercial vehicle drivers.
The Office of The Ombudsman recommends that the Transport Department prescribe examination items for the physical certification required for license plate application and provide medical professionals with guidelines on this so that they can more effectively assess whether the applicant for a license plate is suitable for driving.
(Photo of the Office of The Ombudsman)
Inspection measures pale in comparison
Local laws require citizens who have reached the age of 70 to provide a "Physical Examination Certificate" to the Transport Department at least every three years before they can obtain or renew their license plates.
As the population of Hong Kong ages, the number of elderly drivers with license plates has gradually increased. Driver license holders aged 70 or above have increased from 37,271 in 2016 to 73,358 last year.
Many elders are in good health and have sufficient working capacity. Chronic diseases may not affect daily work as long as they are properly controlled. However, people's physical functions will always decline with age. Therefore, the Office of Transport recommends that the Transport Department increase the driver’s physical certification requirements to reduce traffic. The accident risk is justified.
However, the current specifications of the relevant certificate are rather sparse. The doctor only needs to summarize whether the applicant is physically fit to drive a vehicle, and fill in whether the applicant needs to wear glasses or hearing aids while driving, but there is no specific requirement for the necessary inspection items. , And doctors can decide on their own data or results to support their conclusions.
Furthermore, the law does not impose stricter physical requirements on commercial vehicles. Geriatric specialist She Daming pointed out in a radio interview that doctors rely on drivers to provide information and have a passive role. Therefore, they agree with the PCPD's reform proposals.
In addition, some taxi and truck driver representatives also expressed support for the Office’s proposal on the show.
Compared with other regions, tightening the conditions for applying for license plates for senior drivers is also considered an international trend.
Take Singapore as an example. Those who have a license plate must undergo a physical examination at their own expense before reaching the age of 65. Drivers of heavy vehicles and public vehicles are required to conduct annual inspections, which are more frequent than those of private car and motorcycle drivers once every three years. The degree of strictness increases between the ages of 70 and 74, and those who reach the age of 75 cannot renew it.
As for those who apply for commercial vehicle license plates in Mainland China, their knowledge and physical integrity are higher than those who apply for private vehicle license plates. People over 60 years of age are even prohibited from driving medium and large vans.
With the aging of the population, the number of elderly people applying for driving licenses has increased in recent years.
The statistics come from the report of the Office of The Ombudsman.
Seize the opportunity to expand medical vouchers and primary care
Since the government, doctors, the transportation industry, and even international experience all support changes to the medical examination system, the next issue to be discussed is naturally who pays the bills.
At present, franchised bus and tram companies do physical examinations for their drivers, but other public and commercial drivers are not regulated.
The PCPD recommends subsidizing professional drivers with financial needs, and explores the use of elderly medical vouchers and the elderly health service of the Department of Health for inspections.
The Transport Department stated that it is exploring whether and how to amend the relevant requirements, and will consult stakeholders in the first half of next year.
In fact, the elderly themselves should pay more attention to their physical conditions, and health care vouchers have always been accused of treating diseases rather than prevention and management. This is because the government can use this opportunity to require senior professional drivers to have a medical examination to encourage more elderly people to use it on a regular basis. Medical vouchers, early detection of patients and follow-up by medical staff, are not without benefits to the entire society, because they feel the importance of primary medical care, they have a greater opportunity to promote them to relatives and friends in the industry.
Road safety is important. Professional drivers should set working hours caps [01 Weekly] The average age of professional drivers is nearly 60. Are traffic accidents only due to aging?