Driving into the sunset years - one in four call for older drivers to hang up keys five years early
Almost one in four (24%) Brits – equivalent to 11.9 million consumers – think that drivers should hang up their keys at age 75, 70 or even younger than 70, despite there being no evidence to suggest older drivers up to the age of 80 years old, are less safe behind the wheel than younger drivers.
The ‘Driving in later life: options for reform’ report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and over 50s motor insurance provider RIAS (1), launched at an round table event at the House of Lords, reveals that older drivers could face losing vital years of independence – potentially up to 10 years – before they may need to. Consumers seem to fear that older drivers may not be safe or confident on the roads after the age of 70.
According to the study, 63% of British people believe that drivers should be forced to give up their driving licence at some stage in later life.
Sarah Howe, Marketing Director at RIAS, comments: “The car is a vital lifeline for many older people and keeping mobile is essential for physical and mental wellbeing. We know from our experience and official statistics that older drivers have fewer accidents than younger drivers. This is partly because older drivers are more likely to self-regulate their driving behaviours, avoiding risky driving conditions for example. We need to encourage and support self-regulation so that older people can maintain the independence they need for as long as possible and recognise when it is appropriate to acknowledge when they are putting themselves and others at risk.”
The research, discussed on Wednesday at the House of Lords by a range of interested parties including Baroness Greengross OBE and Shadow Transport Minister John Woodcock, examines attitudes towards older drivers and the feasibility of self regulation versus enforced re-testing or surrendering of their licence.
Fit for purpose
Under UK regulation, drivers are not currently required to cease driving or re-take their driving test at any age. Drivers are, however, required to complete a medical questionnaire to confirm whether they are fit to drive, and when drivers reach 70 years old they must re-apply for their driving licence. The research revealed that 85% believe that re-testing should be compulsory, with 40% suggesting that this should take place at 65 or younger. It seems that younger age groups seem even keener on the idea of re-testing: two-thirds (66%) of 16 – 24 year olds support re-testing at 65, 60 or at an earlier age, versus only one quarter (23%) of those aged 65 or over.
Public transport not an alternative
The research also reveals that for many older drivers, public transport is not a viable alternative to their private vehicle – with just over half (53%) of drivers over 55 claiming that public transport is ‘never’ a realistic alternative for them. Reasons for this include the expense (63%), unreliable services (64%) and the services being physically inaccessible (57%).
In the ‘Driving in later life: options for reform’ report the ILC-UK calls for the DVLA to allow older drivers to voluntarily restrict their driving licenses, helping people to make earlier and better informed decisions around driving in later life. The ILC-UK also suggests that the government should offer a 10% discount on car tax for older drivers who self-select their individual licence restrictions, for example, not driving at night or in extreme weather conditions, to act as an incentive for self-regulation.
Support for self-regulation
Two thirds of people (66%) support the idea of self-selected licence restrictions, where drivers above a certain age would impose restrictions on themselves about where and when they drive – for example only driving during the day and not in adverse weather. Seven out of 10 (69%) are in favour of lower car tax and insurance payments for those older drivers who have demonstrated that they are safe and drive less frequently. And nine out of 10 (89%) of those surveyed agree that older drivers should obtain medical advice as part of the self-certification process.
Dr Craig Berry, Senior Researcher at ILC-UK and author of the report said: “In an ageing society, there is a need to support drivers as they get older. Older people today are driving further and more often than previous generations and are more reliant on their car than ever. Our report shows that there is strong support for punitive measures around driving in later life but there is little evidence that these will lead to safer roads.
“We strongly support self-regulation and suggest that at the point of licence renewal, older drivers should be required to declare that they have sought the advice of a medical professional before self-certifying their fitness to drive. The decision to surrender a driving licence should remain with the individual as far as possible.”
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For further information or a copy of the report, please contact:
Alex Kennedy at Seventy Seven PR on 020 7492 0977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, contact Lucy Pope, Consumer Communications Manager, RIAS on 01202 254445 or email email@example.com.
(1) Research was conducted by GfK NOP between 14 and 16 October. Base: 1005 adults aged 16+
RIAS was established in 1992 and is a specialist award-winning provider of insurance products for the over 50s age group.
Part of Ageas (Insurance UK) Limited, RIAS has over a million motor, home and travel insurance customers and employs over 1,100 people across two UK sites. RIAS negotiates with a panel of insurers to secure competitive, value for money products.
Ageas UK is a leading provider of award-winning Personal, Commercial and Protection insurance solutions in the UK. Ageas UK distributes both its Non-Life and Life products through a range of channels including brokers, IFAs, intermediaries, affinity partners and the Internet, as well as through its retail strategy via its wholly or partially-owned companies (Ageas Insurance Solutions, Ageas Protect, Castle Cover, Kwik Fit Insurance Services, RIAS, Tesco Underwriting and Text2Insure).
Insuring around 8 million customers and working with a range of partners, Ageas is recognised for delivering consistent and high-quality customer experiences. It employs around 5,400 people with a head office based in Eastleigh and others based in Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Gloucester, London, Reigate and Stoke-on-Trent.
About the ILC-UK
The International Longevity Centre – UK is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and demographic change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for action and debate.
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