If you’re worrying about sharing the roads with boy racers you might be concerning yourself over the wrong road users. According to a recent Transport Research Laboratory report it could be the drivers over 70s we should be worrying about. The report found that 1 in 10 motorists over the age of 70 should give up their their cars.
After drivers who have turned 70 must declare whether or not they are fit to drive. From then on they must do this every 3 years. This is a self-declaration and no formal medical or driving testing is involved.
The Director of the RAC Foundation Professor Stephen Glaister, said: “All drivers should regularly consider their fitness to drive, but matters really come to a head when we reach 70 and have to declare that we are fit to be on the roads. In general older drivers have an enviable safety record but it is clear that faced with this critical yes or no decision many motorists simply do not have a realistic view of their capabilities.”
The report also revealed that whilst 10% of over 70s motorists shouldn’t be driving, around 170,000 are prematurely giving up driving and their cars for fear of being unsafe or feeling too nervous.
Glaister continues: “While this will mean there are drivers who are unfit to be on the roads there will be many others who have prematurely hung up their keys. This will have a huge impact on their ability to live an active life, access essential services and take part in social activities.
In the UK we currently have 3.9 million driving licence holders who are over 70. In an ageing population, of which the Government predicts 10 million will reach the age of 100, this number is only set to rise. Among the elderly licensure is going up, particularly for women. Private cars help older people maintain their autonomy and social lives. Car use among the elderly has increased, replacing walking and public transport.
When driving it is important to take into account that, just like learners, elderly drivers might have slightly slower reactions to changes in traffic on the road.