Most people want elderly drivers to take fitness tests to keep licence
Dr Hilary discusses the risks for older drivers
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More than half (51 percent) of road users thought all drivers should have to surrender their licence altogether – regardless of their health and fitness – when they hit advanced age. A further 12 percent of survey respondents believe this should happen at some point in a person’s early 80s.
That idea, perhaps unsurprisingly, curried less favour with people in older age brackets – more than half (55 percent) of over-70s asked said no such law should be introduced, although a third said it was a good idea.
Asked whether drivers aged 70 and over should face mandatory health and fitness checks in order to keep their licence, 77 percent of people said yes.
Almost two-thirds of respondents over 70 said they were in favour of being tested.
Currently, drivers over 70 have to renew their licence every three years but do not face any mandatory health or fitness tests to do so.
It’s estimated that three-quarters of all adults in the UK aged 70 and above hold a full driving licence, up from 59 percent in 2012 and from just 45 percent in 2002.
With more older motorists on the road than ever before, Forbes Advisor conducted the survey to discover the perceptions and attitudes towards them from other drivers.
It found that older drivers consider themselves among the safest on the roads – despite research showing the frequency and average value of insurance claims climbs among motorists when they reach their 70s.
Only 18 to 20-year-olds have a higher average claim figure than those aged over 80.
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Kevin Pratt, car insurance spokesperson at Forbes Advisor, said: “The UK’s roads are getting more crowded, with improved longevity playing its part as drivers stay behind the wheel for longer.
“But how do we manage the potential problem of having an increasing number of drivers with declining faculties and health problems that might impair their driving ability and lead to accidents?
“Many older drivers will tell you that their experience and cool-headedness make them safer drivers in the same way that inexperience and exuberance can make those under 25 a riskier proposition.
“But others will argue that a mandatory health test for those above a certain age makes sense, as only those that fail will be affected, with wider benefits for road-users generally.”
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According to new data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the number of driving tests taken by those aged 50 and older has increased by 259 percent in the last year.
Around 3.5 times as many tests taken by this age group in the 2021 to 2022 period, than in the previous 12 months.
It has been estimated that there will be more than one million drivers over the age of 85 on UK roads by 2025, with motoring groups calling for change to protect elderly drivers.
Mr Pratt continued, saying: “Should there be a blanket requirement to surrender your licence when you reach, say, 85?
“That seems draconian, given that there are bad drivers and good drivers at every age. But the Government will need to confront the issue at some point given the demographic factors that are slowly but surely putting more elderly drivers on the road.”
When asked whether they thought over-70s were a danger on the roads, 44 percent of under-25s said yes. The research also revealed where in the UK other drivers are the most forgiving towards older motorists.
One-third of people in the West Midlands said they would be more forgiving of an elderly motorist who caused an incident than they would with other road users – the highest in the UK. In Scotland, just 12 percent said they would be more forgiving – the UK’s lowest.
Nationally, most respondents (63 percent) said they would treat an older driver no differently than anyone else, while just five percent said they would be harder on an older driver if they had caused an incident than with someone of a younger age.
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