There has been debate over recent years, much of it heated, over whether motorists should be forced to retake their test before they turn 70. The reason for this, as demonstrated in numerous motorist surveys, is that many road users are concerned about the behaviour of older motorists.
This concern is due primarily to fears about the state of health of many of those driving who are over 70. Suggestions have been made that these motorists should have to prove their fitness to drive through a series of regular sight and coordination checks.
However, the Department for Transport statistics reveal, surprisingly perhaps, that these concerns are driven more by perception than reality. To demonstrate, motorists over 70 account for nine per cent of all road users, whilst as a group, they account for just six per cent of all driver casualties. The cause for concern may be a result of the fact that the over 70 driver demographic has been tarnished by the actions of a small number of largely publicised incidents.
If statistics are to be the driving force for those who should retake their driving test or be party to regular suitability tests, it should, perhaps, be motorists aged under 30. To demonstrate, this group accounts for 20 per cent of the overall driving population, whilst it accounts for a grossly disproportionate 35% of all casualties.
These are not the only statistics that demonstrate that people age over 70 are perhaps not the worst drivers on the road. Age UK Enterprises, conducted a survey of over 2000 respondents. Whilst the overall findings of the survey were that older drivers behave better behind the wheel than other categories, there were two key areas which provided increased insight.
The first was that only 7 per cent of the over 65s who were surveyed admitted to using their phone whilst driving, compared with 21 per cent of the population of the whole. The second is most the most surprising, especially due to the fact that much concern about the suitability to drive of those aged 65 and over was due to this group being perceived as worried and uncertain. Only 29 per cent of those aged over 65 surveyed, said they were nervous in rush hour traffic, whilst 31 per cent of the general population said they were.
Whilst there is no doubt some cause for concern as to the suitability of some older people and their ability to drive. It is perhaps an issue that is more about perception than reality.