Stop demonising older drivers, says road safety charity!

A road safety charity has called for practical solutions to help older people carry on driving, pointing out that driving into old age is good for staying independent and active.

Arguing that it’s time to stop ‘demonising’ older drivers, IAM RoadSmart highlighted a Swansea University study which found that drivers over 70 are four times less likely to be involved in a road traffic incident than those aged 17 to 24.

  • There are several reasons why older people one of the safest groups behind the wheel.
  • They have many years of driving experience, which can compensate for less rapid reflexes.
  • They are much more cautious drivers, and so less prone to taking risks.
  • Most self-regulate by not driving at times and in places they do not feel comfortable, e.g. when the weather is bad, when traffic is heavy, or in areas that are unfamiliar.
  • Few older drivers drink and drive or take illegal drugs, and most don’t speed.

With figures showing that there are now 2.5 million licence holders over the age of 75 driving on UK roads, the charity said there is a need for “clear and practical actions” to help older people stay safe behind the wheel for as long as possible.

“Compulsory medicals and driving retests are an unnecessary action to take against a group who present no greater risk to themselves and others than other drivers,” said Neil Greig, drector of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart.

Today’s 70-year-old is healthier and fitter than ever before. And there are now hundreds of thousands more of them.

“So, as the population ages, we want to see the driving licence renewal age raised to 75, accompanied by an eye test to ensure the individual remains capable of identifying and reacting to any potential hazards. GPs should also be able to prescribe a driving assessment where they think it appropriate and these, in time, could become compulsory for drivers over 85.”

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