Is this the end of the road?

Is this the end of the road?

Seven in ten Britons would report an elderly loved one they feared was a menace on the road… and more than one in twenty have already done so, according to new research.

And new figures show that 17,000 motorists aged 70 and over have had their driving licence revoked or refused due to a medical condition in the last year.

Half the population want the law changed so motorists have to retake their test at a certain age.

But more than a fifth (21%) believe this should apply to everyone every ten years – and an experiment added weight to this argument.

When three young drivers aged 18 to 26 were pitted against three aged over 70, including octogenarian TV legend Lionel Blair, in a car simulation test the results were inconclusive.

The motorists had various driving styles with some being more cautious, while others were happy to drive at speed. But it was impossible to tell which group posed the greater danger behind the wheel.

And this could be heartening for pensioners who find driving helps them to remain independent (36%) and confident (11%).

The thought of having their driving licence taken away is a worry for one in five (19%) older people.

The law requires drivers to renew their licence every three years when they reach 70, with older drivers legally required to declare whether they are fit to drive.

At present, there are more than 4.5 million over 70s on the road, according to the DVLA.

This includes 239 motorists aged 100 or over, with one male driver holding a full licence at the grand age of 108.

But almost one in six (16%) people admit they are troubled at the behaviours of older drivers behind the wheel.

In fact, nearly two fifths (39%) have an elderly relative or friend whose driving is giving them cause for concern, with two in three worrying they may cause an accident.

So, in a bid to help keep our roads safe, 69 percent say they would alert the authorities if they thought an elderly driver was a danger.

And six per cent have actually reported a loved one to the police, deeming them to be an unfit road user.

Currently, there is no legal age at which someone must stop driving. However, more than a quarter (27%) of Brits believe there should be a legal age limit when we are no longer allowed to drive, with one in seven (15%) of them citing that they think this should be between 71 and 75.

However, as it stands, the onus is on the driver to decide when they no longer have the ability to drive safely.

And as ageing affects us all differently, many older drivers feel they have been unfairly tarnished with a negative perception of their driving abilities.

In fact, more than a third (34%) of elderly drivers believe they are a better driver today than they were when they were younger.

And to prove how good a driver they actually are, two fifths (40%) of these older drivers would be happy to take their driving test again.

More than half (54%) of drivers aged 70 and over believe younger drivers are more reckless. And 50 percent say they cause more accidents on the road.

So, in a bid to find out who has the better driving skills, carried out the experiment with the Transport Research Laboratory in combination with its survey of 450 and 850 older and younger motorists respectively.

And the car insurance price comparison website admitted it was none the wiser afterwards. It said there is no clear answer as it is all down to the individual who gets behind the wheel and age is not necessarily a factor when it comes to ability.

Matt Lloyd, motoring expert, said: “We understand driving gives older motorists the freedom and independence that they require.

“However, there will come a point when we may not have the ability to be a safe driver and that might be down to age or any number of other reasons.

“And as motorists we all need to recognise the importance of the need to be physically and mentally fit.

“For years, people have argued over whether younger or older motorists are the worst drivers. While this is still up for debate, we need to understand that we should be more concerned about the individual’s driving abilities.

“Drivers, regardless of age, should be mindful of their own ability and make sure responsible driving is their number one priority.

“Your safety and the safety of other road users are the most important things to consider. If you’re concerned that your driving is not as good as it was, do not wait for an accident to convince you to stop.”

by Mark Waghorn