Road safety and breakdown cover specialist GEM Motoring Assist welcomes the news that the Department for Transport is considering raising the age at which drivers must declare they are fit to drive from 70 to 75.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE comments: “This is a sensible step, however we question the road safety value of any such age-related declaration.
“Reaching a specific birthday doesn’t automatically lead to sudden deteriorations in judgement and eyesight, so we believe that making a formal declaration on fitness to drive at 70, 75 or any age is unnecessary bureaucracy and of little or no road safety benefit.
“We regularly remind all our members – of any age – that they should not drive if they are unfit to do so.
“We encourage all senior drivers to stay mobile as long as they’re safe, and we commend the responsible attitude demonstrated by the vast majority of older motorists to self-regulate.”
Figures show that senior drivers are a very safe group of road users, according to David Williams. “This is because most are good at altering and adapting their driving to reflect any changes in their ability to drive safely,” he explains.
“So they may avoid driving at night or in bad weather, they may cut down the length of journey they make, they may explore alternative transport methods and ultimately they will themselves decide that the time has come to stop driving.
“Inevitably there are a few senior drivers who make the headlines when poor decisions lead to horrible crashes. These are likely to be the ones too proud to heed the warning signs, and too stubborn to listen to advice from family members. According to research (TRL 2013), these represent around 10 per cent of senior drivers, and we fully support any safety measures that will identify them and deny them the use of the road.”
GEM’s ‘Still Safe to Drive’ website (www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk) is a video-based resource with an excellent line-up of expert advice on safer driving into old age. There are also tips for concerned family members on how to talk to an elderly relative about reducing risk on journeys.