The majority of older drivers are in favour of tighter rules on checking their driving capabilities, even if those checks could take them off the road, according to a report by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
‘Keeping Older Drivers Safe and Mobile’ is based on a survey of more than 2,600 drivers and former drivers. In the survey, 60% of respondents said drivers should have to resit the driving test at around 70 years of age.
The IAM worked with Dr Carol Hawley and her team at Warwick Medical School to produce the report, which it describes as the first major survey of its kind for two decades.
More than half of respondents also said that drivers should be required to have a medical examination at around 70 years of age, while 94% agreed that GPs should be required to inform patients if their medical condition may affect their driving ability.
Almost 60% of respondents said drivers should retake the driving test every five years after age 70, while 85% said drivers should pass an eyesight test every five years once they have reached 70 years.
The report also confirmed how important driving is to this group. 82% of those interviewed said driving was very or extremely important to them, a figure that increases for women. Independence and convenience were cited as the main reasons for wanting to continue to drive.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “Driving is about so much more than getting from A to B and nowhere is this more apparent than in this age group. It helps maintain self-esteem and freedom and is essential for combating social isolation.
“There are certain issues that affect mature drivers more so than other groups however, such as reductions in mobility and a slowdown in reaction times. The great news from this survey is that mature drivers themselves are aware of the risks and support action to review their safety.
“Voluntary self-assessment and better education via GPs are important techniques for helping drivers understand how long they can continue to drive safely for. And for those needing a confidence boost or a little extra reassurance on today’s busy roads, the IAM’s Mature Driver Assessment could be something to think about.”
The age range of the survey was 55 to 101 years, with an average age of 69.5 years.
Approximately half the respondents were aged under 70 (52%) and half were aged 70 or over (48%).
Most respondents were currently driving (2,402 people, 92%); 217 (8%) had given up driving.