New research from Swansea University, revealed last night, has suggested that older drivers are no more dangerous on the road than other motorists.
Speaking at the British Science Festival, Dr Charles Musselwhite said that the research shows drivers over the age of 70 are involved in 3-4 times fewer accidents than men aged 17-21.
The statistics certainly bear this out – in fact, despite only making up seven per cent of the driving population, young or novice drivers aged between 17 and 25 account for 20 per cent of deaths on the road.
Dr Musselwhite also suggested that making some older people give up their cars early could lead to an earlier death, so denying them a licence is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
He argues that there should be more rigorous testing, particularly with regards to eye tests, and extra monitoring of the effects of prescription drugs – he also said that testing older people will not make the roads safer.
While the deterioration in health that an older person experiences can of course lead to problems when driving, the point at which this happens is different for each individual – there is no age at which all drivers become unsafe. We don’t believe a driver should be made to take a test just because they have reached an arbitrary age.
Instead, we encourage all drivers to take regular driving assessments and refresher training, to undergo a medical check before renewing their licence at 70, and again each time their licence is renewed.
Drivers and health professionals should also discuss their fitness to drive during consultations – although there is a need for more education for health professionals about using their guidance and how to help patients who are unfit to drive.
It’s also important for families and friends to help those elderly motorists they feel might need to consider changing their driving habits.
RoSPA has a dedicated website with advice and guidance for elderly drivers, their relatives, medical professionals and others: www.olderdrivers.org.uk
In the meantime, we want to see more done to drive down the huge number of casualties involving young and inexperienced drivers – you can find out more in my blog post from last week.
Nick Lloyd, RoSPA’s road safety manager
Posted: 9/7/2016 4:01:38 PM