New research from IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, reveals that motorists over the age of 60 intend to drive for as long as they are safe to do so, and that the average age they would consider giving up their licence is 82.
With a grant from the Department for Transport, IAM RoadSmart recruited Dr Carol Hawley from the University of Warwick to produce an update on Keeping Older Drivers Safe and Mobile: A Survey of Older Drivers, first published in 2015.
The new report details the findings from surveying over 3,000 respondents aged 60 plus from across the UK, and highlights that older drivers value their cars to maintain independence and want to stay mobile for as long as possible while they are safe and able to do so.
Neil Greig, Policy & Research Director from IAM RoadSmart, commented: “There are over 12.1 million drivers of 60+ according to the report. With many being healthy, fit and with over 40 years’ experience and knowledge, why shouldn’t they continue to drive?”
Dr Carol Hawley, Author of the report said: “We recommend the Government should conduct a comprehensive review of the driver licensing and testing system in relation to the ever-growing number of drivers over the age of 70 and beyond. We need to ensure that those who are healthy, fit, and capable remain safely on the roads. Currently in the UK, the only safety requirement for mature drivers is to renew their driving licence at the age of 70 by confirming to the DVLA that they have no medical issues.”
Overall drivers, asked in the survey, expected to continue driving for an average of 12.3 years.
Drivers aged 60 – 69 years expected to continue driving for an average of 15 years.
Drivers aged 70 and over expected to continue driving for an average of 9 years.
The average age at which people think they will give up driving was 82.
For drivers aged under 70 the average age for giving up was 79.4 and for drivers aged 70 and over the age of giving up was 85.3.
Figures on the number of drivers aged 60+ show there are now over 12 million (12,151,845) DVLA information at September 2020 shows: -
The oldest valid licences are held by two men aged 107 and the oldest female is 106.
There are 612,908 69-year-olds who will need to sign the self-declaration to say they are fit and healthy to continue the renewal of their driving licences next year.
The over 70’s make up 13% of all licence holders
80% of 70+ drivers have no plans to give up their licences yet according to our survey. Taking the statistics from the DVLA that could equal (4,344,542) individuals aged 70 or over with no plans to give up.
In our survey the majority (79%) felt they were excellent drivers and would not consider giving up for years. Only a doctor/GP or optician/optometrist, who are considered the most influential people to give advice on giving up driving, were likely to convince them to relinquish their licence for health or eyesight reasons.
Neil Greig continued: “We need a joint education campaign to help drivers start to plan for the retirement of their driving licences at an earlier age, working in partnership with the government, health professionals, pension advisors, financial advisors, and transportation experts.”
“A wider range of easily accessible mature driver focused information is needed for consumers on accessible vehicle designs, mobility features, journey planning and mobility costs to help inform these campaigns. Mature driver reviews should be encouraged, and the government should consider the idea of offering them on prescription to encourage uptake and equal access.”
Survey findings on ability to drive
79% rated their driving ability as good to excellent.
79% said that driving was very or extremely important to them.
Drivers aged 70 and over had checked the current driving regulations more recently than younger drivers, probably because they had visited the DVLA website to renew their licence at age 70.
97% of mature drivers surveyed say they intend to continue driving for the foreseeable future.
The most important reasons to continue driving were for independence and convenience.
Most current drivers would consider giving up driving if they had a health condition or if a health professional advised them to stop driving, especially if advised by a General Practitioner (GP)/Doctor or Optician/Optometrist.
Only 164 drivers said they had been involved in an accident whilst driving in the last three years. Of these, the majority were men, which may be partially explained by their higher annual mileage.
Over 40% of current drivers said they never avoided driving in difficult conditions, such as driving at night, driving in bad weather, driving long distances, or driving in rush hour.
Over half of current drivers said they never avoided driving on busy or unfamiliar roads or on motorways.
Drivers aged 70 and over were significantly more likely than younger drivers to avoid driving at night, at night in the rain, and driving long distances.
The survey took place early in the pandemic, many respondents reported missing a routine eyesight test, visual problems or medical problems were left unchecked, thus potentially making them unsafe to drive.
532 people (17.4%) said they had missed a routine eye test.
127 people (4.1%) confirmed they had a visual problem they were unable to get checked due to the pandemic.
396 (12.9%) confirmed they had a medical problem they were unable to get it checked
Neil added: “IAM RoadSmart, are already working with local authorities like Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, York and in South Wales, amongst others, on initiatives to help local residents update and improve their driving skills, increase confidence and stay mobile for as long as safely possible. We need more of these across the country.”
For more figures on demographic trends and the opinions of older drivers please see our infographic.
For more information about IAM RoadSmart, which helps to improve driving and riding skills through courses and coaching, visit www.iamroadsmart.com.