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Retest elderly drivers to make sure they are still safe behind the wheel

December 18, 2012


Number of older car users set to surge.

Pensioners may be offered refresher driving courses to help ensure they are safe driving behind the wheel.

A Whitehall advisory group The Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety made the recommendations in response to the continuing surge in the numbers of older drivers.  However the courses would be voluntary should be made available to older drivers all over the country.

A few local authorities do already offer refresher courses for elderly drivers but only a few and not enough. However, take-up is usually low as older drivers fear that the courses are really 'tests' and will lead them to having their licence taken away.

Under the scheme elderly drivers would merely sign up to a course voluntarily, but could also be recommended to do so by their own GP, a family member or even a police officer who has witnessed their driving and may have concerns about it.

The report, from the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety (also known as Pacts) drew a difference between drivers who were deemed to be at risk and those who posed a risk to others and said that older road users tended to be in the former group.

The report points out that the numbers of older drivers will keep increasing as people live and continue to drive longer.

The proportion of over-70s who drive increased to almost 60% in 2010, from just 15% in 1975.

8 in every 10 of people aged 60-69 years old have licences and these people are expected to continue to drive for the next 20 years. The same proportion of 30-39 year olds are licence holders and these are also expected to drive until at least 2050.

The UK has what the report describes as a 'liberal' licensing procedure for older drivers. Under law, licences must be renewed at the age of 70 and every 3 years thereafter. And the onus is on the driver to self-certify as being fit and able to drive.

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