Respect your elders, as the saying goes, but our recent independent national survey of more than 1,200 reveal that many of us don't trust the older generation behind the wheel. In data that may make grim reading for drivers of advancing years - a third of young motorists believe that drivers should resit their test after their 60th birthday.
The study comes as greater scrutiny is placed on older drivers and whether their standard of driving is up to scratch. More than 35 per cent of car-users questioned said they felt it would improve road safety if older motorists had to periodically sit mandatory tests. At present, drivers are required to renew their license at 70 – and every three years afterwards – but they do not have to prove their continuing fitness behind the wheel.
But the findings — from a survey of 1,200 motorists by Select Car Leasing — could further fuel debate about if mature drivers should face specialised examinations. Significantly, they come as it was revealed, in Japan, that traffic deaths in 2018 had fallen to the lowest annual rate in the country’s history. The decline, police said, was due in part to stringent new tests for elderly people renewing their licences.
Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA, said: “Rules around this have already been tightened with doctors in the UK granted greater power to intervene if they believe patients are a threat to other road-users in the UK. That is proportionate.”
Officials in the UK have ruled out further action for now out of fears it would result in many retired people giving up their cars prematurely. A Department of Transport report in November found even requiring those over 70 to take new eyesight tests could lead many to stay off the roads altogether.
Mark Tongue, company director at Select Car Leasing, one of the UK's largest vehicle leasing specialists, said: “It’s surprising that so many people appear to believe in age-specific tests because all the data suggests drivers over 60 are, by and large, some of the safest on the road.
“Our own experience is that the age of the driver makes no difference to how competent they are behind the wheel.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was little appetite among those over 65 for a rethink on legislation. Less than 5% agreed with the introduction of new mandatory tests. There is no legal age at which motorists must stop driving, providing they don’t have any medical conditions which may affect their ability.
According to Government guidelines: “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 and you may be putting yourself or other road users at risk.”
The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) must be informed of any medical conditions that may affect ability to drive safely, which includes previous health conditions that have worsened or new ones. If involved in an accident where their health condition is a facotr, motorists could be prosecuted and find themselves not covered by their insurance.
Those concerned about their fitness and ability to drive are advised to talk to a GP or health professional.