Older drivers favour further checks

Research has found that the majority of older drivers are in favour of more stringent checks of the health and suitability of over-70s to drive.

The report was conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and Warwick Medical School, and found that the surveyed drivers and forrmer drivers were mostly in favour of further measures.

Almost 60% said drivers should retake the driving test every five years after age 70, while 85% said drivers should pass an eyesight test every five years once they have reached 70, and more than half said that drivers aged around 70 should be required to have a medical examination.

94% agreed that GPs should be required to inform patients if their medical condition may affect their fitness to drive and half agreed that a flexible licensing system should be introduced which could restrict types of roads and conditions for some older drivers.

Respondents also wanted some rules to extend further than older drivers, with 84% agreeing all drivers should pass an eyesight test every 10 years after first passing, regardless of age.

More than half of those surveyed said that they self-regulate to stay safe, by avoiding driving in challenging situations like busy traffic, after dark, in rush hour or bad weather. But most of those surveyed were happy to be on the roads. 84% of those asked rated their driving ability as ‘good to excellent’ and only 6% had ever considered giving up driving.

The report also found just how important driving is to this group. Some 82% said that driving was very or extremely important to them, a figure that increases for women.

The number of drivers over the age of 70 is set to double over the next 20 years, while more than one million licence holders are over age 80.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said, ‘Driving is about so much more than getting from A to B and nowhere is this more apparent than in this age group. It helps maintain self-esteem and freedom and is essential for combatting social isolation.

‘There are certain issues that affect mature drivers more so than other groups however, such as reductions in mobility and a slowdown in reaction times. The great news from this survey is that mature drivers themselves are aware of the risks and support action to review their safety.

‘Voluntary self-assessment and better education via GPs are important techniques for helping drivers understand how long they can continue to drive safely for.’