Older drivers ‘considerably safer’ than younger drivers – IAM

11.36 | 18 January 2010 | | 6 comments

Drivers aged over 70 years are no more likely to cause crashes than other drivers, and are considerably safer than younger drivers, according to a report published on 18/1/10 by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “The report contradicts the common assumption that older drivers are a danger on the roads.

“Just 8% of drivers are over 70 and they are involved in around 4% of injury crashes; but of the 15% of drivers who are in their teens and 20s, 34% are involved in injury crashes.”

The IAM says that older people rely heavily on their cars, and the ability to drive gives many older people better mobility and access to more activities. Men in their seventies make more trips as car drivers than men in their late teens and 20s.

Neil Greig added: “The IAM recommends that, rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we need to make them aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them cope with these risks.”

Greg Lewis of Age Concern/Help the Aged said: “We believe that where drivers wish to continue behind the wheel beyond the age of 70, only convincing reasons should prevent them from doing so.

“An elderly person’s risk of being killed or suffering a serious injury as a result of a road crash is between two and five times greater than that of a younger person because of their increased physical frailty.”

Click here to read the full IAM news release.

Click here to download the full IAM report.



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    In reply to Roy from Sutton. I completely agree with all you’ve said, but after working with elderly drivers for a while, and having spoken to them as an equal (not that easy when im considered a young “whipper-snapper” by most), a good ice breaker is to ask which highway code they recognise…most point out the early ones and openly admit that they still follow the rules in the one that they knew when they passed their tests! To elaborate on my roundabout example, the one i have in mind is a 4 arm roundabout with a 3 lane approach, left, straight over and right off. Each exit has its own lane, and when im in the centre for straight over, its usually the elderly in the off-side who cut you up and take the 12 o’clock exit. Whats interesting is that when working with with the elderly in this particular district, nearly all (with a bit of hesitation) admit to making this manoveure at some time.

    I completely agree that good driving practice takes years to refine, but regardless of your age, you have to keep up-to-date with the current rules and regulations. Im 100% positive most of my peers are unaware that theres been a new highway code issued since they/we passed our test as they have no incentive to look at it, so in 50 years time there will be some young guy complaining that all us old folk dont know the rules and are causing problems at roundabouts 😉

    James, Middlesbrough
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    A message for James of Middlesbrough. I once heard this comment from an instructor. “I passed the advanced driving course many years ago but I only recently became an advanced driver.” Worth bearing in mind. As for the most appropriate line to take when negotiating roundabouts, well James, that applies across the age and gender spectrum. Also, you might hear advanced instructors say, you shouldn’t get yourself into a position where you become the victim of others bad driving. I prefer the term refined driving rather than advanced driving and, like good wine, refinement takes years to mature. Keep up the good work with the elderly.

    Roy Buchanan, Principal Road Safety Officer, Sutton
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    As a young advanced driver (i passed at 20) it never fails to amaze me how many older drivers do not understand the current rules of the road! I have worked with older drivers via Age Concern and Help The Aged and have provided seminars and talks, and the one fact that sticks in my mind is that the vast majority manage to approach and exit a roundabout in an incorrect manner due to the lane and positioning advice being different when they passed their test. I have lost count of the number of times ive been cut up on roundabouts by older drivers (and even had one pull into the nearby supermarket with me and try to tell me my driving was wrong! ).

    Im not defending young drivers because the statistics speak for themselves, but i wonder how many collisions are caused by drivers (old or otherwise) who then sail off into the sunset oblivious to the distruction they have causeed and left in their wake.

    James, Middlesbrough
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    While not wishing to be accused of ageism, I should point out that the IAM report nowhere mentioned measuring collision rates by trip or by kilomteres travelled; an oversight which would have given a fuller picture.

    Mike Mounfield, GreenSafe, UK
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    I drive less robustly than before. I drive more defensively. I am more tolerant and forgiving of others. I drive at 20-plus in residential roads where the speed limit is still 30. I drive less frequently at night. I leave plenty of time for the journey and don’t rush if I am late. Am I a goodie-two-shoes? No, I am just old.

    Roy Buchanan. Principal Road Safety Officer, London Borough of Sutton
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    I am pleased that the results of this research dispel some silly myths about older drivers. Drivers, where physically and mentally competent, should not be discouraged from driving at any age. Let us not promote ageism and discriminate under the umbrella of road safety.

    As the IAM spokesperson recommends – education and driver development, where appropriate, is a far more positive and effective intervention.

    Mark – Wiltshire
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