Elderly Drivers

Elderly drivers aged 75 and over account for approximately 6% of all licence holders in the UK. Moreover, despite claims that elderly drivers are a hazard to themselves and other motorists, they are responsible for only 4.3% of all road related deaths and serious injuries. In comparison, drivers who are between 16 and 20 years of age account for merely 2.5% yet they are responsible for 13% of all road related deaths and seriously injuries.

As a result, the Department of Transport has stated that there is no evidence which supports that elderly drivers are more likely to cause a road traffic accident than other motorists. Subsequently, the Department of Transport have no intentions to restrict the licensing of elderly drivers, nor do they have any plans which would make it compulsory for elderly drivers to undergo additional driver training courses solely on the basis of their age.

Elderly Drivers Statistics

  • Over 4 million people who are over 70 years of age hold a full UK driving licence.
  • According to the RAC Foundation, the UK’s oldest licensed driver is a 107-year-old woman. Currently, there are 191 people over the age of 100 who hold a full UK driving licence.
  • The Department of Transport’s road safety figures reveal that there were 10,974 road-related accidents involving drivers over the age of 70 in 2011. In comparison, there were 11,946 accidents involving 17-to-19-year-old drivers and 24,007 accidents involving 20-to-24-year-old drivers in 2011. However, these statistics do not reveal who caused these accidents; only the ages of those involved.
  • In 2011, 59 drivers who were aged between 70 and 79 died in road-related incidents. In the same year, 52 drivers who were over 80 years of age died in road-related incidents.
  • A recent survey by Auto Trader highlighted that 73% of the 3,763 respondents were concerned by the driving behaviour of older motorists. More than 6 out of 10 respondents believed that elderly drivers should have to prove their fitness to drive through regular sight and coordination checks. Over a quarter of these respondents admitted that they felt unsafe whilst being driven by someone who was over the age of 65. Consequently, many of these respondents believe that elderly drivers should have to retake their driving test at the age of 66.
  • Drivers who are over 80 years of age are two and a half times more likely to be killed in a collision than drivers who are between 40 and 50 years of age.
  • However, a separate survey by Age UK Enterprises suggests that older drivers practice better driving behaviours than some younger drivers. Out of the 2,000 respondents surveyed, 7% of over 65s admitted to using a mobile phone when driving, in comparison to 21% of the entire driving population. Moreover, only 29% of drivers aged over 65 stated that they were nervous in rush hour traffic, in comparison with 31% of other age groups. Older drivers are also more likely to have their eyes test once a year than the rest of the driving population.
  • In 1971, 13% of the population was over 65 and 7% of those were over 85. By 2009 17% were over 65 and 12% of these over 85. The proportion of older people who hold full UK driving licences has risen from 15% to 57% in the same period (1971-2009)
  • Records predict that, by 2030, over 90% of male drivers who are over the age of 70 will hold a full UK driving licence.

Advice

If you are an elderly driver, it is recommended that you practise the following road safety measures. By doing so, you can continue to drive with confidence and caution, as well as greatly reducing the risk of being involved in a road traffic incident:

  • You are required to inform the DVLA of any medical conditions from which you suffer which will impact your driving ability. Although your GP will usually inform you when you need to contact the DVLA, it is advisable that you always inquire with the DVLA when you are prescribed a new treatment or if you are diagnosed with a new medical condition.
  • Visibility is a concern for drivers of all ages. Therefore, it is recommended that you undergo regular eye tests to ensure your visibility is sufficient in order to drive.
  • Avoid driving at night or in severe weather conditions when visibility is poor.
  • Once you are over the age of 70, you will be required to reapply for your UK driving licence every three years. All you have to do is make a medical declaration of your current health and, if you have any conditions which may seriously impede your driving, the DVLA will consult with you further.
  • Avoid long journeys and take rests if you begin to feel tired or fatigued.
  • Avoid any driving routes which cause you to feel anxious or stressed. For example; many elderly drivers choose to avoid driving during traffic congestion, and opt for countryside routes to their destination rather than bus city centres.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Always wear a seat belt and ensure it is in sufficient working condition.
  • Revise your knowledge of the Highway Code. Read the latest addition in order to refresh your knowledge of local speed limits and any recent changes to UK road regulations.
  • Choose a car which best suits your driving capabilities. For example, there are several models which are now available with larger mirrors and windows, as well as supportive seating and headrests.

Ultimately, as long as you feel confident and happy to drive, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue. As long as you remember to exercise caution whilst driving, you should be able to continue travelling independently as you please.