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Should older drivers re-sit their tests?

According to a new survey, more than 70% of drivers are worried about the driving abilities of older drivers but are they really any more risky than younger drivers? The survey by car magazine, Auto Trader, polled 3,763 drivers and found that 73% thought that drivers over 65 should have to retake their driving tests.

According to a new survey, more than 70% of drivers are worried about the driving abilities of older drivers but are they really any more risky than younger drivers? The survey by car magazine, Auto Trader, polled 3,763 drivers and found that 73% thought that drivers over 65 should have to retake their driving tests. More than 60% felt that older drivers should have to undergo regular sight and co-ordination tests and over a quarter stated that they felt unsafe when in a car with a driver over 65 years of age. Younger drivers in particular were more likely to distrust older drivers.

It seems though that these findings have more to do with a misplaced perception rather than reality as figures from the Department of Transport (DoT) suggest a different conclusion. DoT figures from 2011, which is the most recent year for which figures are available, reveal that drivers over 70 account for 9% of drivers but only 6% of driving casualties. The Auto Trader report suggested that older drivers were being besmirched by a relatively tiny number of high profile and widely reported cases of poor driving by seniors. DoT figures on the other hand, suggest that young drivers need look no further than their own age group to find the cause of accidents. These DoT numbers show that only 20% of drivers are under 30 but they make up 35% of casualties.

The Institute of Advanced Motorist's chief examiner, Peter Rodger, commented: "It is important to recognise that older drivers are under-represented in statistics. 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." This was borne out by an Age UK Enterprises survey which suggested that UK seniors behave rather better when behind the wheel than do younger drivers.

Age UK Enterprises managing director, Gordon Morris, added: "Older drivers are, on the whole, confident and responsible, comparing favourably with other drivers across the country. We would like to see the insurance industry taking this on board and basing insurance premiums on ability and not on the false assumption that age equals poorer driving." Age UK charity director, Michelle Mitchell went on to point out the importance of driving to older people: "For many older people driving is a way of maintaining independence, so it's important that they should not be prevented from doing so on the arbitrary basis of birth-date alone, particularly when people's fitness and health varies so dramatically."
 

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