Road safety experts have recommended raising the mandatory fitness to drive self-declaration for licence renewal from 70 to 75 years old - if proof of an eye sight test is made compulsory.
The recommendations are made by the Older Drivers Task Force in ‘Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age’, a report setting out a national older driver strategy. The Task Force, which was welcomed by Government, was managed by the Road Safety Foundation and supported by Ageas, the third largest motor insurer in the UK and a leading insurer of older drivers.
More than 25 experts and organisations in transport, health, policing, licensing, car manufacturing and insurance collaborated to produce the report, led by Chairman John Plowman. Analysing the latest international evidence, available technology and road safety schemes, the Task Force makes seven key recommendations for government and other stakeholders.
The emphasis is for government and industry to work together to ensure older drivers can stay on the road and enjoy independent lives for as long as it is safe to do so.
• Raising the automatic requirement for drivers to notify the DVLA at age 70 of any medical condition affecting driving to 75 - if the requirement for an eye sight test is made compulsory
• Requiring the DVLA to get evidence of an eyesight test at licence renewal
• Asking a consumer body to prepare specific advice on modern car safety features that are of special significance for older drivers - and consider "silver" NCAP-style assessment
• Improving road design, signs and markings to meet the highest international standards specifically to aid older drivers but bringing benefits for all drivers
• Evaluating existing driving appraisal courses and improving information provided to older drivers, their families, and medical professionals
• Piloting new products which offer an alternative to driving for older people.
• Pooling insurer data and research into major claims involving older drivers to understand the detailed causes.
The Older Drivers Task Force looked at the academic evidence base, the latest in vehicle, road and information technology, and reviewed best practice examples of support and self-help schemes. It is ready to work with the Government in the future on how best to implement these proposals.
Independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, commented: "Official crash statistics show that the risk of older drivers hurting others in serious crashes is lower than middle-aged drivers and half that of young drivers. As we live and drive longer, it is not acceptable to stereotype the majority of older drivers who ensure they are fit to drive. The vast majority of these drivers are responsible, safe and well aware of their limitations but they do need help to keep them mobile and independent. Increasing the age of licence validity to 75 can be done without compromising safety and including an eyesight test is a welcome additional safeguard with which most drivers can easily comply.”