Ageing society

Older drivers in Hong Kong are not really more unsafe, just more in number these days

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 6:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 10:51am

I refer to “Number of crashes involving elderly bus and taxi drivers triples in decade” (September 24).

Numerous studies have shown that older workers are more careful, steady, responsible and loyal, and that these positive characteristics more than balance the slowing response time as we age, to which Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai refers.

In noting the increase in the absolute number of accidents involving older drivers between 2008 and 2017, it must be considered that in 2008 older public vehicle drivers were only 17 per cent of the total, compared with 41 per cent registered public vehicle drivers now over 60 and they accounted for only 30.5 per cent of drivers involved in accidents in 2017. The statistics should imply that older drivers have proportionately fewer accidents than younger drivers.

Describing people aged 60 as elderly is remarkably inappropriate today, for – compared with previous generations – lifespans are longer, and within them citizens are healthier.

Watch: Taxi driver delivers joy to Hongkongers with a guestbook

That so many Hong Kong organisations force retirement at 60 or 65 is a terrible waste of energetic human talent that makes no sense in a city short of workers. It is also contrary to the trend in most places to extend the retirement age gradually, often to 70, for pension/Mandatory Provident Fund purposes.

But it is encouraging to read that both KMB and New World First Bus rehire many drivers after they retire, and require regular medical tests. Not so encouraging is to learn that public vehicle drivers are not legally required to have a medical check-up until 70 years of age. The public interest surely demands that all drivers of public vehicles of any age should pass an annual medical.

A positive change for Hong Kong would be to prohibit forcing an employee performing his job satisfactorily to retire. We would be following numerous other places with such a rule already – many for decades.

V.F. Moore, Central