Of the UK citizens alive today, around 10 billion will reach their 100th birthday.
With people living longer than ever these days, the number of older drivers is set to soar. In fact, the number of over 70s who hold a UK driving licence has exceeded four million for the first time – and according to the RAC Foundation the oldest licensed driver in Britain is 107 years old!
We’ve all heard the stories about an elderly driver travelling the wrong way round a roundabout or going the wrong way on a dual carriageway. Some of us might have even advised an elderly friend or relative to stop driving – and some of these suggestions may have been better received than others! But just how dangerous are older drivers?
The Department for Transport says that it has no plans to restrict licensing or enforce additional training on the basis of age, since there is no evidence older drivers are more likely to cause an accident.
Currently drivers over 70 must declare they are fit every three years, but no driving or medical exams are required.
However, figures from an Auto Trader survey in May 2013 showed that 73% of people are concerned about the behaviour of older motorists.
The age at which people should be made to retake their driving test was set at 66 and over a quarter of respondents said they felt unsafe when someone over the age of 65 was in the driver’s seat.
Are we worrying over nothing?
But figures suggest we are fretting needlessly. According to research by the RAC Foundation, drivers aged 75 and over make up 6% of all licence holders but account for just 4.3% of all deaths and serious injuries on the roads.
This is compared with drivers aged 16-24 who make up 2.5% of all motorists but account for 13% of those killed and seriously injured.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “There’s a stat that young drivers under the age of 24 have twice as many crashes as you’d expect, given the numbers on the road, and older drivers have half as many as you’d expect, given the number on the road.”
What are the risks?
However, Mr Greig noted that some sections of the road are more perilous than others where older drivers are concerned.
He commented: “In key locations such as high-speed junctions, high-speed roundabouts and slip roads onto motorways and dual carriageways – locations where drivers are required to look around quickly and make quick decisions – some drivers over the age of 70 struggle.”
Age-related changes that can affect driving include changes in vision, hearing, reaction time and coordination. Medications and certain conditions can also affect people in ways that make driving dangerous.
If an older person does have an accident, they might be more at risk than younger motorists due to frailty.
If you are involved in a road accident that was down to the negligence of someone else or the blame can be attributed elsewhere, we can pursue an accident claim on your behalf.