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END OF THE ROAD FOR OLDER DRIVERS?
- More than two-thirds (69%)1 of Brits would alert the authorities if they thought an elderly driver was a danger on the roads - 6% of motorists who are concerned about an elderly driver have already done so
- Nearly half (49%) of Brits are calling for the law to be changed, forcing elderly drivers to retake their driving test every three years
- However, more than a third (34%)2 of elderly drivers believe they are a better driver today than they were when they were younger
- Confused.com conducted an experiment at the Transport Laboratory with a group of younger and older motorists, including octogenarian Lionel Blair, to compare their driving skills
People’s driving skills can change over time and as people get older there may come a point when they will no longer be as safe as they once were on the roads. More than two-thirds (69%) of Brits say they would alert the authorities if they thought an elderly driver was a danger on the roads. And some have already resorted to these drastic measures. More than one in 20 (6%) motorists who are concerned about an elderly relative/friend’s driving admit to reporting their loved one to the police, deeming them to be an unfit road user.
UK law requires drivers to renew their licence every three years when they reach 70(3), with older drivers legally required to declare whether they are fit to drive. However, nearly half (49%) of Brits disagree with how the law currently stands and are calling for it to be changed - forcing drivers aged 70 and over to retake their driving test as well as renewing their licence once every three years.
There are more than 4.5 million drivers aged 70 and over who hold a full driving licence in the UK, according to the DVLA(4). This includes 239 motorists aged 100 or over, with one male driver holding a full drivers licence at the grand age of 108.
Despite many older drivers having years of experience on the roads, nearly one in six (16%) Brits admit that they are troubled at the behaviours of older drivers behind the wheel. In fact, nearly two fifths (39%) of people admit that they have an elderly relative/ friend whose driving is giving them cause for concern, with more than two thirds (67%) of them worrying that they might cause a car accident.
Currently, there is no legal age at which someone must stop driving. However, more than a quarter (27%) of Brits believe there should be a legal age limit when we are no longer allowed to drive, with one in seven (15%) of them citing that they think the legal limit should be between 71 and 75.
However, as it stands, the onus is on the driver to decide when they no longer have the ability to drive safely. And as aging affects us all differently, many older drivers feel they have been unfairly tarnished with a negative perception of their driving abilities. In fact, more than a third (34%) of elderly drivers believe they are a better driver today than they were when they were younger. And to prove how good a driver they actually are, two fifths (40%) of these older drivers would be happy to take their driving test again.
But it’s not just older drivers that Brits feel should be re-taking their driving test. More than a fifth (21%) of Brits also think all motorists should have to do so every 10 years, which could answer the question of which age group poses the greatest danger behind the wheel.
And according to some older drivers, their younger counterparts may fit the bill. In fact, more than half (54%) of drivers aged 70 and over believe that younger drivers are more reckless when driving And a similar number (50%) of older drivers believe younger drivers cause more accidents on the road.
However, younger drivers (17-26) may disagree, as the majority (93%) believe they are good drivers, and more than one in 10 (11%) feel they are better drivers than their older equivalents(5). In fact, nearly a quarter (23%) of these younger drivers don’t think elderly drivers are safe on the road.
So, to put this age-old argument to the test and understand who has the better driving skills, older or younger drivers, Confused.com conducted an experiment with the Transport Research Laboratory. The experiment involved a car simulation and pitted three young drivers aged 18-26, against three elderly drivers aged over 70.
The experiment revealed that the motorists had various driving styles with some being more cautious than others, while others were happy to drive at speed. But interestingly the experiment was inconclusive. Which begs the question who is safer on the roads? And as the video shows there’s no clear answer as it’s all down to the individual motorist who gets behind the wheel; and age isn’t necessarily a factor when it comes to driving ability.
And this could be heartening for drivers aged 70+, as driving gives many older motorists their independence (36%) and confidence (11%).Therefore the thought of having their driving licence taken away from them due to their age is a worry for many (19%) older motorists.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com says: “We understand that driving gives older motorists the freedom and independence that they require. However, there will come a point when we may not have the ability to be a safe driver and that might be down to age or any number of other reasons. And as motorists we all need to recognise the importance of the need to be physically and mentally fit.
“For years, people have argued over whether younger or older motorists are the worst drivers. While this is still up for debate, we need to understand that we should be more concerned about the individual’s driving abilities. Drivers, regardless of age, should be mindful of their own ability and make sure responsible driving is their number one priority.
“Your safety and the safety of other road users are the most important things to consider. If you’re concerned that your driving is not as good as it was, don’t wait for an accident to convince you to stop.”
Notes to Editors
1.Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll research on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK motorists with a full driving licence and who drive regularly (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 11th February and 15th February 2016.
2.Online poll of 450 aged 70+ with a driving licence. The research was conducted between 11th February and 24th February 2016.
4. According to DVLA data (as of 30/01/16) there are 4,517,798 drivers aged 70 and over that hold a full driving licence.
5. Online poll of 850 UK adults aged 17-26 with full licence and drive regularly. The research was conducted between 11th February and 25th February 2016.
There are 16,924 drivers aged 70 and over who have had their driving licence revoked due or refused to a medical condition in 2015. According to the DVLA these licence holders have entitlement to drive a car or ride a motorcycle.
Confused.com was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance. Confused.com is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services. Launched in 2002, it generates over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include home insurance, holiday insurance, pet insurance, small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, breakdown cover and gas and electricity, as well as financial services products including credit cards, loans, mortgages and life insurance.
Confused.com is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an, objective and unbiased comparison service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more. Confused.com’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators.
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