Almost 200 centenarians still drive legally on UK roads - but are they safe?

 

There are 191 people aged 100 or over who are still legally allowed to drive on UK roads, according to figures published today.

The RAC Foundation said the UK’s oldest licence-holder was an 107-year-old woman and also reported that the number of drivers over 70 had exceeded four million for the first time. The oldest man with a licence is 106.

The figures were issued as the research charity Rica published a guide for older motorists to help them decide whether they are still fit to drive. Studies in the US and Australia have found that while one in 10 elderly drivers should not be on the road, about a third give up driving too early.

In the UK, motorists have to declare whether or not they are fit to drive at the age of 70 and then every three years, but do not need to take a driving test or have a medical examination. Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said all drivers should “regularly consider their fitness to drive”, but added that “matters come to a head when we reach 70”.

“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,” he said. “For those reliant on a car, giving up driving will have a huge impact on their ability to live an active life, so it is important that they get all the help and support to make the right decision at the right time.”

The RAC Foundation analysed data from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency and found that 4,018,900 drivers aged 70 or over had a valid driving licence. In November last year, that figure was 3.9 million.

 The number will rise sharply over the next decades and the number of centenarians is expected to soar. In 2010, the Government predicted that 17 per cent of the UK population – about 10 million people – would live to be 100. The Rica guide, called Driving Safely for Life, gives advice on how to continue driving later in life, the law and alternatives forms of transport.

Les Hale of Gloucestershire, who turned 100 in July, told The Independent he was still a good driver and was impressed that 191 fellow centenarians were still able to drive. “That’s pretty good, isn’t it?” he said.

In March this year, the Association of British Insurers announced a new agreement to improve access to motor insurance “regardless of age”.

A Department for Transport spokesman stressed that drivers over 70 should “tell the DVLA about any conditions which might affect their driving”. He added: “Most older drivers are aware of their limitations and manage their driving accordingly.”

Case study: ‘A lot of people think I’m too  old to drive’

Centenarian Les Hale has been driving for 70 years and reckons he is still “pretty good” behind the wheel. The former coach driver, who turned 100 in July, accrued just two motoring convictions over all those years: a speeding offence about 30 years ago and another for obstructing the road.

“I enjoy driving… I’m pretty good,” he said. However Mr Hale, of Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, said he was “thinking about packing up now”.

“I think I’ve had enough [of driving]. Recently I haven’t been too well… I had to go into hospital and I wasn’t too fit. I’ve improved since,” he said.

The insurance premium for his two-door Ford Escort has also risen from “£100 and something” when he was about 90 to nearly £400.

Mr Hale said he got the impression that many thought he was too old to drive. “A lot of people do think that. When I was in hospital, one of the nurses said to me, ‘I think you ought to think about packing up driving’. I didn’t think much of that.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

    £96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee