Over 65s should be made to re-take driving test - say 60% of Brits

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67-year-old driver

Three in five British motorists say that once drivers hit the age of 66 they should be made to sit their driving test again, while 73% of them are worried whenever they are following an older person on the road.

But is this fair?


Re-sits

The research, by Autotrader, found that one in five people think there should be stricter regulations for older drivers. At the moment it is up to older drivers (over the age of 70) to self-certify that they are still capable behind the wheel. They have to do this at 70 and then again every three years after that. Some 21% of people felt that this wasn't enough.

Some 65% of Brits believe older drivers should be subject to medical checks, such as regular sight and coordination tests, while 30% think Government should reduce the number of points older drivers are allowed before their licence is revoked.

The most common concerns voiced by those in the survey were that older people have a lower level of awareness and slow reaction speeds. As a result, over a quarter (26%) of Brits surveyed admit to feeling unsafe when getting in the car with a driver over the age of 65.

These concerns aren't new. As long ago as 2010 research from insurer RIAS found that 24% of people thought that drivers ought to be forced to stop driving at the age of 75.

Concern

However, the issue is becoming a hot topic as the number of older drivers soar. The baby boomers were the first generation where driving has been the norm throughout their adult life. Now they are reaching retirement age, so the number of older drivers has gone through the roof.

The number of licence holders over the age of 70 has rocketed 72% in the past twenty years, and it appears that drivers are concerned that the Government is failing to prepare for the anticipated demographic time bomb and influx of older drivers on our roads.

But is this fair?

The statistics would seem to say otherwise. Official statistics show people over the age of 70 are statistically far safer than those under the age of 30: they make up 9% of drivers but only 6% of driver casualties, while drivers under 30 make up 20% of drivers but 35% of casualties.

Institute of Advanced Motorists chief executive Simon Best says: "Today, over 10 million people can expect to reach 100 so the chances are they'll be driven around by their 70 year-old children. While their frailty puts them at risk if they are in a crash, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are a risk to other drivers." He is against compulsory re-testing, in favour of government action to improve risk-awareness and promote voluntary training for older drivers.

Nathan Coe, Group Director at Auto Trader, adds that it's not easy to devise rules to suit all drivers, saying: "Any correlation between growing old and driving safely is not straightforward, making it difficult for Government to enforce a one rule fits all policy. Driving is a combination of experience, attitude, physical health and brain function."

Peter Rodger, Chief Examiner at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, adds that there are alternatives to subjecting all older drivers to more tests. He says: "There are plenty of options for older drivers who may be worried about whether they are safe on the road including an objective assessment of their driving skills and driving refresher courses."

But what do you think? Are older people safe to drive? Let us know in the comments.

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