Never too old to drive?

After a recent high profile car accident involving an older driver, many people are asking “are older drivers safe being on the roads?”

The benefits are obviously independence and the freedom to visit friends and family; but how do you weigh up the risk to yourself and others?  And how much more dangerous is an older driver on the road than a young inexperienced or reckless driver?

Did you know?

You don’t have to retake your test, but if you are lucky enough to still be driving at 70 your license does expire and you must fill in a self-assessment to renew it declaring that you are medically fit to drive: you have to be able to read a number plate from 20m away and re-apply every three years.

So, who is more likely to crash, an older or younger driver?

A lot of drivers will think that as you get older your skills diminish. This could be the case but the facts present a different story.

BBC’s reality check looked at over 70s and with over 5.3 million drivers in this category they had just over 11 thousand accidents, so roughly 2 for every 1,000 drivers. They then looked at newer drivers, and of the 2.8 million drivers aged 17 to 24, they had nine accidents for every 1,000 drivers.

Maybe it’s inexperience or the stereotypical boy racers, or maybe older drivers drive less at night and stick to routes they know well, but the younger drivers are more than 4 times more likely to have an accident.

As an older driver, are there any signs I should look for that my driving could be deteriorating?

No one likes to admit they are getting old, but the Older Drivers forum has a list of things to look for. If you are experiencing any of these it could be worth having an assessment or eye test. Just remember it not just yourself but others at risk if you’re not safe to be on the roads.

  • Slower reaction times
  • Difficulty in turning to see when reversing
  • Keeping a foot on the brake or over-revving the engine, especially on low-speed manoeuvres
  • Incorrect signals or confusion at exits
  • Hitting the kerb or trouble making turns
  • Difficulties with low-light or night-time driving
  • Avoidance of driving to new or unfamiliar places
  • Scrapes and dents on the car