No Need For Older Driver Re-Test, Says IAM

Mon, 18 Jan 2010

Drivers over 70 are no more likely to cause crashes than any other driver, and are considerably safer than younger drivers, according to a report published today by
the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).


Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research said: “The report contradicts the common assumption that older drivers are a danger on the roads. Just eight per cent of drivers are over 70 and they are involved in around four per cent of injury crashes; but of the 15 per cent of drivers who are in their teens and 20s, 34 per cent are involved in injury crashes.”


Older people rely heavily on their cars, and the ability to drive gives many older people better mobility and access to more activities. Men in their seventies make more trips as car drivers than men in their late teens and 20s.


Mr Greig added: “The IAM recommends that, rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we need to make them aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them cope with these risks.”


Greg Lewis of Age Concern/Help the Aged said: “We believe that where drivers wish to continue behind the wheel beyond the age of 70, only convincing reasons should
prevent them from doing so.”


Mr Lewis added: ““An elderly person’s risk of being killed or suffering a serious injury as a result of a road crash is between two and five times greater than that
of a younger person because of their increased physical frailty.”

Other key findings are:


•        In the next 20 years the number of male drivers over 70 will double, female drivers will treble.
•        Drivers over 70 are safer on bends and overtaking than 50 year olds, but are more at risk at roundabouts, junctions and slip roads on high speed roads.
•        In some traffic situations, older drivers are less likely to be in a crash because they tend to adopt a more careful and restrained driving style.
•        No particular age was identified where there is sudden increase in crash involvement.
•        Older drivers self regulate and take fewer trips on motorways, in poor light or wet weather, or  at peak times.
•        Drivers over 85 are four times more likely to have caused a crash than to have been an innocent victim of one.
•        Crashes in which older women are to blame peak about five years earlier than those for older men.

“The IAM strongly believes that there is no case for compulsory retesting of older drivers at an arbitrary age. More research is needed on the best age to renew driving licences and there needs to be a wider debate on the introduction of restricted licensing,” said Mr Greig.

 

Coinciding with the report, the IAM is launching 'Drivecheck55', a friendly means by which older drivers can have their driving assessed and be encouraged to improve it.

 

For a fee of a mere £35, drivers get a 60 minute drive with an IAM qualified examiner in their own car at a time to suit them. On completion they are given a comprehensive report on their driving.

 

Generally, older drivers 'self regulate'. They don't go out in bad weather or take unnecessary risks and often restrict their driving to daylight hours.

 

Nevertheless some gentle encouragement from a qualified IAM examiner can help make them aware of any bad habits they have got into or any failures in their observation and help them remain safe drivers for many years to come.

 

More on DriveCheck 55 at www.iam.org.uk/drivecheck55

 

 

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