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Positioning statement: Older drivers

Blog post   •   Jun 01, 2014 00:01 BST

The RAC recognises the importance of driving to maintaining the mobility and hence the quality of life of many older people, particularly in rural areas where public transport is less likely to be available as an alternative to the car.

The RAC believes that measures to prevent older motorists from driving should be discouraged unless there are compelling reasons why it’s not safe for them to do so. After all, older drivers are much fitter and healthier now than ever before – 70 could well be the new 60 so far as fitness to drive is concerned.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Previous research for the RAC Report on Motoring suggests that only 15% of UK motorists rate ageing drivers as a major concern. This is backed by Department for Transport statistics which demonstrate that while the number of drivers aged 70 and over is on the increase, older motorists cause fewer accidents than their younger counterparts.

“While the majority of motorists would like to see more rigorous medical checks on drivers aged 70 and over, such as regular eyesight tests, there is no strong evidence that more draconian measures such as compulsory re-sitting of the driving test at regular intervals is required.

“Drivers themselves tend to self-regulate as they get older – for example, stopping driving at night or on motorways or in adverse weather conditions – and tend to recognise their own limitations. Family members too, have a role to play in helping older drivers make the right decision regarding when they should hand over their car keys.

“RAC research shows that there is slowly increasing support for the introduction of further checks on older drivers, but we do need to take an evidence-based approach as to what checks are appropriate and at what age.

“Driving is a skill that needs to be practiced and adapted as the roads and in-car technology change through a motorist’s lifetime. We support measures to ensure motorists continue to develop and refresh their driving skills from the first time they pick up their car keys to the last time they put them down.”