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Allow older drivers to voluntarily restrict their driving licences, argues International Longevity Centre-UK.

There is a clear need for policy-makers to consider the implications of an ageing society on our road safety, according to a new policy brief published today by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK). The think-tank argues, however, that reform should look to build upon the existing process of ‘self-regulation’.

The policy brief Older Drivers and Behavioural Change, produced with the support of the RAC Foundation, considers the policy implications of ILC-UK’s research on the driving decisions made by older people, published earlier this year.

Older drivers tend to be as safe as other age groups, up to around the age of 80 – by which time the majority of people have ceased driving. Furthermore, driving is vital to the mobility, independence and ultimately quality of life of many older people. Nevertheless, we know that driving is affected by age-related decline. The brief utilises insights from behavioural economics and psychology to suggest various ‘nudges’ that government could introduce to improve the regulatory system around driving in later life.

ILC-UK is therefore recommending:

1. DVLA should introduce self-selected licence restrictions. Older drivers should be able to voluntarily restrict their driving activity, thereby nudging older people towards self-regulation.

2. DVLA should mandate older drivers to declare, at the point of self-declaration, that they have discussed their driving capability and habits with a medical professional.

3. The government should introduce a 10 per cent discount on Vehicle Excise Duty for older drivers that can demonstrate self-regulation.

4. The Department for Transport should develop and distribute a self-assessment toolkit so that older drivers can monitor and evaluate their own driving capabilities.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief-Executive at ILC-UK said “We believe that policy-makers are right to consider the potential impact of an ageing society on road safety. But self-regulation is already evident among older drivers, and it is crucial that this is supported as far as possible. Our proposals would help to create an effective form of self-regulation while recognising that most older drivers are responsible road users.”

Stephen Glaister, Director of the RAC Foundation said. “We are an ageing population. The number of drivers over 75 may well double in the next twenty years and many will be dependent on their cars to live healthy and happy lives. The challenge is to keep our senior citizens mobile while preserving their safety and that of other road users. Voluntary changes in driving routines can enable safer driving by older people and the RAC Foundation is strongly supportive of the proposals in this policy brief.”

Contact:

Dr Craig Berry (report author) at ILC-UK on 02073400440. Or email craigberry@ilcuk.org.uk

END

Notes to Editor:

1. Older Drivers and Behavioural Change will be available on the ILC-UK website on 8th November 2011. Advanced copies are available for the media.

2. The production of Older Drivers and Behavioural Change has been supported by the RAC Foundation.

3. The International Longevity Centre-UK is the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. It is an independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change. We develop ideas, undertake research and create a forum for debate. The ILC-UK is a registered charity (no. 1080496) incorporated with limited liability in England and Wales (company no. 3798902).

4. Dr Craig Berry is a Senior Researcher at ILC-UK and the author of Can Older Drivers Be Nudged? (RAC Foundation, 2011). He also lectures on economic policy at the University of Warwick. He worked previously as a Policy Advisor on Older People and State Pensions at HM Treasury, and completed his PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2008.

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