Can you ever be too old to drive?

When someone reaches the age of 70, should they have to sit a driving test to make sure they're fit to drive? That’s one of the proposals being suggested by a parliamentary committee.

The report, by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), has raised the idea of compulsory testing of drivers when they reach the age of 70. This is partly due to ever increasing numbers of elderly drivers on British roads.

Drivers over 70

The number of drivers on the roads who are 70 years old or over has increased rapidly in the last 30 years. In 1975 only 15% of over 70s held a licence whereas the figure in 2012 stood at nearly 60%.

This equates to as many as six million over 70s currently on the roads.

The report has raised this as a concern because the numbers of elderly car drivers being killed or seriously injured on the road between 2000 and 2010 has fallen less slowly than in younger drivers.

The decrease for 70 to 79 year olds was 44% compared to the average level of 54%. The report also drew the distinction between road users who were at risk and who posed a risk to others. Older road users tended to be in the former group, it said.

A national transport strategy for the over 70s

The committee have called for a national strategy in dealing with this issue moving forward.

PACTS executive director, Robert Gifford said: “We have national speed awareness courses for people who are caught speeding and maybe we should have a similar course for older drivers”.

Part of this strategy could be the prospect of compulsory testing at 70.

This test would be to determine if someone’s age and health were in any way impacting on their ability to stay safe on the roads and not to put anyone else at risk either.

Other proposals include improving public transport alternatives for older people and appointing a minister for older people. You can download the report: It’s My Choice: Safer mobility for an ageing population.

Road Safety

  • For information on road safety visit the Think! campaign.
  • There's also lots of useful road safety facts and resources on the Brake website.

Originally posted on 19/03/2012

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