The majority of older drivers want to continue driving as long as they are safely able, for reasons relating to independance and convenience, according to a report commissioned by the IAM.
The report, Keeping Older Drivers Safe and Mobile, is based on a survey of more than 2,600 drivers and ex-drivers between the ages of 55 and 101 years. It is authored by Dr Carol Hawley from the University of Warwick Medical School.
82% of those interviewed said that driving was ‘very or extremely important’ to them, with females significantly more likely than men to rate driving as ‘extremely important’.
The top five reasons why older drivers wanted to keep driving were:
|Lack of public transport||148||6.3%|
Although 84% of respondents rated their driving ability as good to excellent, and 86% rated their confidence as a driver as good to excellent, the majority of those surveyed said they would consider giving up driving if they had a health condition, or if a health professional advised them to do so.
Despite their determination to keep driving, the majority were in favour of measures to increase their safety on the roads – including retesting and checking of various aspects of drivers’ health and competence.
Almost 60% said drivers should retake the driving test every five years after the age of 70 years. 85% said drivers should pass an eyesight test every five years once they have reached 70 years, and more than half said that drivers aged around 70 years should be required to have a medical examination.
Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer of the IAM, said: “A driving licence is a passport to freedom for all ages but particularly for older drivers. As grandparents it’s about helping their family access jobs, education and childcare as well as keeping themselves independent and mobile. The psychological impact of a giving up a driving licence shouldn’t be underestimated.
“Reaction times and physical mobility are affected by age and all drivers need to make an informed decision about when to give up. We need to make it as easy as possible for mature drivers to make that choice armed with the full facts and all the support they need.
“While some might need to accept the decision they cannot keep driving safely on the road, we believe some are pushed into giving up before they really need to. A professional opinion counts for a lot, and there are many organisations that offer advisory voluntary assessments that will give an older driver the confidence they need to enjoy many more years of happy motoring including ourselves.”
Earlier this month RoSPA launched a new website which provides information and advice to help older people drive safely for longer.