The charity IAM RoadSmart has warned that, in their opinion, drivers over 85 represent a demographic timebomb. They want anyone in this age group to have to re-sit a driving test for the well-being and safety of them and other road users. Currently, we have around 1.65 million motorists on the roads who are older than 80—included in this figure of 510 people who have crossed their centenary and are now over 100 and still driving.
Accidents Do Happen
They timed the warning to be released just after a recent inquest into an accident in which an 89-year-old woman Kathleen Fancourt died after being struck on her mobility scooter while crossing a road in her hometown of Chichester. The driver, who was 95 years old, ran a red light and was at fault. The accident occurred in 2021.
The current legislation requires drivers who are over the age of 70 to make an application to renew their driving licence every three years. At this time, the applicant should also disclose any existing or new medical conditions that might affect their ability to drive. However, the onus is on the driver and unless there is an accident, very little in the way of checking is done.
The charity campaigners feel that with an Increasing ageing population, it’s time that mature driver assessments were brought in and made compulsory. They cite the fact that many local facilities are closing, and people are being forced to travel further to access services and maintain their independence requiring them to keep their car irrespective of whether or not that is a safe decision.
It is possible to back up this request with statistics. Drivers who are 86 and over have a 45% higher rate of collision than the second most dangerous group. Most people assume new drivers aged 17 to 24 cause the most accidents, but this is not the case. They come in 2nd to the older driver.
In the latest figures that the Department for Transport publish, it is possible to differentiate the driving issues caused by age group. Young people tend to lose control of the car when driving too fast on Benz in the road. Older drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident when they are looking over the shoulder and driving down a slip road. They also have more right-turn accidents.
As well as drivers being assessed once they reach a certain age, the charity is also advocating compulsory site tests. They want them to start when the driver reaches 75 and be re-taken every three years. They have a campaign that makes drivers aware of the signposts in health and sight that point to a need to surrender their driving license. It is a very difficult thing for a lot of people to do as it involves an aspect of pride as well as an ability to maintain independence. While the RAC backs sight tests at the time of over 70 driving license renewals, which is every three years, they do not support retesting older drivers. In fact, they oppose it.