20% of older drivers question their driving skills

Older driver

One in five drivers over 50 think they would fail their driving test if they had to retake it, new research has found.

A report from specialist insurer RIAS found that Britain's ageing population means that the average older driver took their test 40 years ago, while 48% of those over 70 took theirs more than 50 years ago.

RIAS also found that 61% thought their driving had changed over the years, with 27% saying they now drive slower than they used to.

When it comes to safety issues, 89% of drivers aged between 60 and 69 aren't concerned physical impairments such as deteriorating eyesight might affect their driving - despite the fact that poor driver vision is estimated to cost £33 million a year in accidents.

There are differences of opinion between age groups as to whether a compulsory test should be introduced when drivers reach a certain age. Some 34% of 60 to 69 year olds think they should be forced to retake their test when they hit 70, while 36% of those over 70 think they should never have to retake it.

More than half (56%) of drivers aged 60 or over said they would be willing to pay for a driving refresher course, while 77% of drivers aged between 60 and 69 and 73% of drivers aged 70 or over said they would support the idea of mandatory eye tests.

Support safe driving

Peter Corfield, managing director at RIAS, said: "Our aim is to support safe driving as we get older. It's not just our driving that alters over time, today, cars are faster, there are more of them on the roads and generally the entire driving landscape has changed."

He added: "If you took your test over 40 years ago, it would be reasonable to assume that quite a lot has changed. The current law allows drivers to declare that they are fit and healthy to drive. Drivers over 70 don't have to provide evidence of this and we'd like to ask the public whether more robust measures should be considered to ensure safe and fit drivers stay on the road no matter what their age."

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These people should contact Institute of Advanced Motoring.  They have a scheme called DriveAssess in which you drive your own car with a qualified observer for ~1 hour and get detailed feedback on your driving.  This can cost £30 but some IAM groups are offering free DriveAssess for early applicants.

Quote Peter Corfield: "If you took yout test over 40 years ago, it would be reasonable to assume that quite a lot has changed"    That is true but only relevant if the driver had not driven in that time which is unlikely. The changes occur gradually and the driver adjusts to the changes.