IAM RoadSmart is calling for an urgent debate to develop solutions that will enable older people to drive safely for longer.
Government figures predict a four-fold increase in the number of drivers over 75 years in the next 25 years – while at present, there are 2.5 million licence holders of that age.
IAM RoadSmart is warning of a ‘demographic time bomb’ – and has criticised the demonising of older drivers by the media and public.
The charity points to a Swansea University study, alongside the DVLA’s own statistics, which highlight drivers over 70 years are four times less likely to be involved in a road traffic incident than young drivers (17-24 years).
IAM RoadSmart is calling for ‘clear and practical actions’ to help older people stay safe behind the wheel for as long as possible – while rebuffing the idea of compulsory medicals and driving retests.
It says older drivers have many years of experience, which can compensate for less rapid reflexes, while they are also more cautious – and so less prone to taking risks.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Contrary to popular opinion, the evidence is clear: older drivers remain one of the safest groups behind the wheel.
“So as the number of older people continues to expand at a significant rate, it’s crucial that we face up to this growing issue and develop solutions that will enable older people to stay driving for as long as they are safe to do so.
“Compulsory medicals and driving retests are an unnecessary action to take against a group who present no greater risk to themselves and others than other drivers.
“Today’s 70-year-old is healthier and fitter than ever before. And there are now hundreds of thousands more of them.
“So, as the population ages, we want to see the driving licence renewal age raised to 75 years, accompanied by an eye test to ensure the individual remains capable of identifying and reacting to any potential hazards.”