Elderly drivers 'safer than young motorists'

Forcing older motorists to retake the driving test will do little to reduce accidents as elderly drivers are among the safest on the roads, a report by the RAC Foundation said today.

Introducing mandatory re-testing will be hard to police and will limit elderly drivers' mobility, the report added.

The foundation said elderly motorists' safety record was better than that of many young drivers.

The report said:

:: 63% of all trips made by the over-70s are by car either as a driver or passenger

:: 53% of the over-70s hold a driving licence;

:: 16% of the UK population is currently over the age of 65;

:: By 2023 it is predicted almost a quarter of the population will be over 65.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "We are unlikely to see re-testing at 70 because, despite the myths, older drivers are no less safe than other age groups.

"Re-testing in this way could also contravene recently-passed equality legislation.

"Older drivers should be encouraged to do refresher training where the evidence shows it has benefits, but they should see this as an offer of help, not a compulsory measure which will leave them fearful of losing their licence and becoming increasingly housebound."

He went on: "Licence renewal at 70 provides a useful prompt for drivers to consider their health and abilities in relation to driving and this should be extended to the rest of the population through the 10-yearly renewal of the driving licence photo-card, which we all have to do.

"It is in everybody's interest to keep older people mobile for as long as they are safe to do so. If driving is no longer appropriate or desirable, alternatives must be in place to allow people to retire from driving and still access essential services and leisure opportunities."

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