1 in 5 drivers over 50 don't think they are fit to be on the road

Friday, 31 October 2014
  • Industry data shows drivers aged 70+ have the highest proportion of third party personal injury costs¹
  • Although the number of accidents amongst the over 70s is lower than other age groups, the injury costs of their accidents is far higher¹
  • Current UK regulation means drivers must renew their driving licence every three years after they turn 70 however these drivers need only declare that they are fit and healthy enough to drive. No proof of this is required by law
  • New report amongst the UK’s older* drivers, by specialist insurance provider RIAS, reveals six in ten (61%) say their driving has changed over recent years
  • 65% of drivers aged 60+ don’t believe people should ever be forced to stop driving
  • To help older drivers stay fit to drive, RIAS has launched www.drive-fit.co.uk 


A new report today from specialist insurance provider RIAS reveals that 22% (1 in 5) of drivers over 50 in the UK don’t think they would pass their driving test today.


However, as the UK has a developing ageing population, there are now more older drivers on the road than ever before. The report found that the averageolder driver took their driving test 40 years ago with nearly half (48%) of over 70s having taken their test more than half a century ago.


The Drive Fit* report, launched today by RIAS, examines attitudes amongst drivers aged 40 plus, as well as competence and safety on the road.  It showed that more than six in ten (61%) older* drivers believe their driving has changed over the years, with almost three in ten (27%) of these saying they now drive slower now than they used to.


Safety on the roads

When it comes to safety on the roads, nine in ten (89%) of drivers aged 60 – 69 and 90% of over 70s drivers do not worry that physical impairments might affect their current driving. This level of confidence is despite the fact eyesight starts to deteriorate between 41 – 60 years of age².  Further research has revealed that accidents caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million a year³.


Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS commented: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. If you took your test over forty 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, via #drivefit, whether more robust measures should be considered to ensure safe and fit drivers stay on the road no matter what their age.”


Attitudes to older driving

When it comes to reforming safety on the road, a third (34%) of 60 – 69 year olds believe drivers should re-take their test at the age of 70, something that is not currently required by UK law. Those over the age of 70 however, sing from a very different hymn sheet with a third (36%) in agreement that people should never be asked to re-take their driving test. Alarmingly, whilst 16% of 60 – 69 year olds are under the strong belief that people should be forced to stop driving at the age of 80, 14 per cent of over 70s say people shouldn’t be forced to cease until they are in their 90s and the majority (66%) don’t believe people should ever be forced to stop driving.


Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS said:We have launched our Drive Fit campaign to help re-evaluate our attitude to driving as we get older, empowering both older drivers and their families to ensure older drivers are indeed fit and confident to drive. The impact of giving up driving for an older person can be monumental. They rely on their cars for visiting friends and relatives, shopping and maintaining independence. However, we must do all we can to ensure they are safe on the roads and that when the time comes to hand back their licences they have the support in place to ensure the loss of independence is minimised.”


Reform in the industry

More than half (56%) of drivers aged 60 plus said they would be willing to pay for a driving refresher course, if the price was right. At the same time 77% of drivers aged 60 – 69 and 73% of drivers aged 70 plus support the idea of mandatory eyesight tests.


To help over older drivers stay fit to drive, RIAS has launched www.drive-fit.co.uk #drivefit


*Drive Fit Report - Research conducted by ICM among a sample of 750 drivers aged 40+ between September 17th – October 6th 2014

¹Claims data from Ageas Insurance Limited for 2014

² Data by the American Optometric Association

³ Fit to Drive report from RSA 2012 

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