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ILC-UK policy brief discussing the options for supporting self-regulation by older drivers.

This policy brief, published with the support of the RAC Foundation, considers the policy implications of ILC-UK’s research on self-regulation by older drivers, first published in February 2011.

In an ageing society, we can expect far more older drivers on our roads. This is not a bad thing, given that 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. This policy 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.

In Autumn 2011, ILC-UK undertook a consultation exercise, asking government officials and representatives from various stakeholder groups to comment on our draft proposals. ILC-UK wishes to thank all who responded for their generous contributions.

In considering the policy implications of our research on older drivers in more detail, the policy brief recommends:

1. DVLA should introduce self-selected licence restrictions. In consultation with their GP and relevant authorities, 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. This measure would nudge drivers towards seeking advice as they get older – as well as nudging GPs to maintain their knowledge of driving in later life.

3. The government should introduce a 10 per cent discount on Vehicle Excise Duty for older drivers that can demonstrate self-regulation. This would incentivise older drivers to self-regulate, and ideally would be used in conjunction with self-selected licences to incentivise take-up.

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. The toolkit would also nudge individuals towards initiating discussions with their families and GPs at an earlier stage.

Dr Craig Berry, Senior Researcher at ILC-UK and author of the policy brief said:

“It is right that policy-makers seek to respond to the potential impact of population ageing on road safety, but it is crucial that the existing norm of self-regulation is supported as far as possible. Our proposals would ‘nudge’ individuals towards an effective form of self-regulation while recognising that most older drivers are safe and responsible road users.”

A copy of the policy brief can be downloaded below:

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