Older drivers ‘should give up’

More than three in five drivers think motorists should be forced to give up their licences at some stage in later life.

And as many as 24% think drivers should hang up their keys at age 75, or 70 or even younger, the poll by the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and insurance company Rias found.

Under UK regulation, drivers are not required to stop driving or re-take their driving test at any age.

Drivers are required to complete a medical questionnaire to confirm they are fit to drive, and when they reach 70 they must re-apply for their driving licence.

The ILC-UK/Rias survey, of 1,005 adults, showed that 85% believed that re-testing should be compulsory, with 40% suggesting that this should take place at 65 or younger.

As many as 66% of 16-24-year-olds supported re-testing at 65, 60 or at an earlier age, while only 23% of those aged 65 or over agreed.

The research also revealed that for many older drivers, public transport was not a viable alternative to the car – with 53% of drivers over 55 claiming that public transport was “never” a realistic alternative for them.

Reasons for this included the expense (63%), unreliable services (64%) and the transport being physically inaccessible (57%).

Two-thirds of people (66%) supported the idea of self-selected licence restrictions, where drivers above a certain age would impose restrictions on themselves about where and when they drive – for example, only driving during the day and not in adverse weather.

Almost 70% were in favour of lower car tax and insurance payments for those older drivers who had demonstrated they were safe and drove less frequently, while 89% agreed that older drivers should obtain medical advice as part of the self-certification process.

Rias marketing director Sarah Howe said: “The car is a vital lifeline for many older people. We know from our experience and official statistics that older drivers have fewer accidents than younger drivers.

“We need to encourage and support self-regulation so that older people can maintain the independence they need for as long as possible and recognise when it is appropriate to acknowledge when they are putting themselves and others at risk.”

ILC-UK senior researcher Dr Craig Berry said: “In an ageing society, there is a need to support drivers as they get older.

“Older people today are driving further and more often than previous generations and are more reliant on their car than ever.”

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