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More than four million UK drivers aged 70 or over

Tue, 01 Oct 2013 00:00:00 -0700

The number of older people with driving licences has exceeded the four million mark for the first time, reveals a report by the RAC Foundation.

Data shows that there are a record 4,018,900 men and women aged 70 or over who hold a valid full British licence, with the motoring research charity predicting that number is set to rise even further.

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This prediction is backed by the government, which has said that of the UK citizens alive today, around 10 million will reach their 100th birthday. Today, 191 people aged over 100 hold a full driving licence, with the oldest lady driver currently 107, one year older than the oldest man.

The news had led to Rica – a national charity providing information to older and disabled consumers – to publish a new guide entitled Driving safely for life. The publication is aimed at ensuring older drivers make the right decision when declaring themselves fit to drive.

Under current regulations, drivers aged 70 and over must declare themselves fit and healthy to drive. The declaration – which has to be made every three years – relies on no formal medical records and no driving test is required.

As well as giving medical and legal advice, the Rica guide also advises older drivers to explore the potential for downsizing to a newer car. Features to look out for include:

Variable power steering

Brake assist and traction control

Automatic or semi-automatic gearboxes

Cruise control

Hill start assist

Automatic headlights and wipers

Parking sensors and cameras

Statistics show that drivers over 55 years old are the least likely to be involved in an accident, but the chances of being seriously injured go up from the age of 65.

Given that the compulsory driving test was introduced in 1935, there are still some drivers on the road who have received no formal training or validation that they’re fit to drive. And indeed, the roads today are completely different to what they were even 50 years ago.

Is self-declaration for older drivers enough, or should there be a compulsory driving test for drivers reaching their 70th birthday? With an increasingly ageing population, it’s a question that will need answering sooner rather than later…

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