Older motorists need urgent review, says RAC Report

13.39 | 29 June 2010 | | 7 comments

With the number of older drivers set to more than double to six million in the next 20 years, the 2010 RAC Report on Motoring reveals 84% of drivers aged 70 or over acknowledge the value in a refresher driving course, and 69% of all motorists support compulsory medical checks at age 70 and above.

A review of the requirements for older drivers has received the backing of driving legend Sir Stirling Moss OBE, who said:  “As an 80 year old driver I can clearly relate to the topic of elderly motorists and I support the idea of tests for the older generation.

“The statistics show that although as a group we are less likely to be involved in an accident, we are more likely to be the cause of an accident, whether we are caught up in it or not – a sign that our reaction times are not what they once used to be.”

The Report shows that 80% of over 70s have been driving for more than 30 years, with 45% driving 50 years or more – and 86% have had no additional driver training or assessment since passing their test.

David Bizley, RAC, says: “Motorists of all ages clearly believe in the value of refresher courses to improve old skills and learn new ones. Reviewing this now will save considerable pain in the future and continue the journey towards safer roads for everyone.

“Older motorists have the challenge of personal mobility and independence and RAC would welcome Government initiatives to help them to continue to drive safely. 

“We need to take an evidence-based approach as to what checks should happen and at what age.  Older motorists are resistant to any compulsory checks understandably, but they are also much fitter and healthier now than ever before – 70 could well be the new 60 for motorists’ health. At the same time we need credible, well-resourced alternatives for those motorists who can no longer drive. Motorists don’t suddenly stop wanting to travel once they hand over their car keys.”

Other themes from the report include:

• The biggest concern for motorists this year is the behaviour of other drivers: 97% are concerned about drunk or drugged drivers, 96% are concerned about mobile phone usage when driving, 95% are concerned about driving without tax or insurance. 

• There has been a big increase in motorists admitting to breaking the law when it comes to mobile phone usage in their vehicles: 28% are using their mobile phone without a hands free kit, up from 8% last year, and 31% are texting when driving, up from 11% last year.

Click here to read the full RAC news release, or for more information contact Jenny Chapman, RAC Press Office, on 01603 689894.


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    This is a very unfair article. Far too much generalisation. Older drivers have more mature experience…not everyone degenerates at the same rate. It is wrong to tar everyone with the same brush!!! The biggest unfairness is the attitude of society, especially insurers, towards competent elderly advanced drivers. This type of misconception helps to cause accidents. Refreshers are essential….for all ..not just the elderly.

    John Pugh. Devon…. South Africa
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    ‘Driving Safer For Longer’ was launched in June 2007 by Devon/Torbay councils with the support of Devon and Cornwall police. The programme provides 2 hour workshops, advisory DVDs, a linked website and 1 hour driving assessments. Over 1500 senior motorists have benefited to date. See http://www.devon.gov.uk/drivingsaferforlonger for details.

    Glenn Bullock, Newton Abbot, Devon
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    Oxfordshire used to run a (free) morning seminar for older drivers at which we offered a free 1 hour assessment drive with an ADI to be taken at a later date. I think most people took us up on the offer. Most participants were extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet others with similar difficulties/problems and to be able to discuss how to get round these. For many it was the first time they had done any driving related learning since they passed their test – if they took one, that is! As I ran more of them I realised the social aspect was much more important than I had previously thought. Any (older) driver can book an assessment with an ADI for a skills test at any time if they are worried about their reaction times or ability to cope with modern traffic. This quote from one of our evaluation sheets sums up why I think we ought to offer a group session as well as the driving “test”/assessment. It was from a female who described herself before attending as “alone and afraid behind my wheel”. At the seminar she realised she was not alone, that other people had the same problems as she did and that there were sources of help/support available to her. Sadly “Older & Wiser” has succumbed to budget constraints but I remain convinced it was a valuable experience for those who had it – and the evaluation sheets bear me out!

    Mandy Rigault – Oxfordshire
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    I am either confused or having a deja-vu moment. Have we not heard recently that older drivers are among the safest on the road? Did this not come from the RAC, the IAM or some equally august body? If that is so and there is no problem, what are we trying to cure? I have the same fear about this as I have about the initiatives encouraging ‘proper clothing’ for motorcyclists. If we ‘go-on’ about it long enough, some misguided individual will ensure it becomes compulsory to test drivers over 60. I am open to persuasion but I often get the feeling that some of these ideas come from my fellow practitioners looking for work.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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    Whilst I agree with all of the above , one of my main concerns is the lack of endorsement for non wearing of seatbelts. It has been proven that it has made a big difference to mobile usage, so isn’t it about time we added points to seatbelts as well? The old arguments are always how do we add points to a passenger if they have no licence? Easy – penalise the driver of the vehicle but double the fine for all passengers not wearing a belt?

    Daniel Carlin
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    Wakefield Council runs a partnership initiative ‘Refresher 50’ which gives free driver training on request and is delivered by local driving instructors to the over 50s

    David Blackburn. Wakefield
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    North Yorkshire County Council hold many Mature Drivers Seminars that include Eyesight checks, Medication checks and Advice from ADI’s to mention some. These seminars have proven very popular and beneficial in keeping older drivers driving for longer.

    Charles, North Yorkshire
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