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Should older drivers have to resit their driving tests?

There are more drivers over the age of seventy on the road than ever before, which is why the debate around whether older drivers should have to resit their driving tests often crops up. Three quarters of men and a third of women over seventy still hold a driver’s licence[1].

Are older drivers unsafe on the roads?

As drivers reach their seventies and beyond, their reaction times naturally slow down and they can find moving more difficult. Their eyesight, hearing and concentration skills can deteriorate. However, with decades of driving experience under their belts, many decide to drive defensively. This means that they don’t take risks, avoiding busy times of the day and only driving when they feel comfortable with the route and driving conditions[2]

Official figures show that drivers over the age of seventy are involved in less accidents than those from younger age groups and suffer fewer injuries[3]. However, there are less of them on the road[4] and older drivers are four times more like to suffer serious injuries because of frailty[5]. The main causes of accidents involving older drivers are speeding, loss of control, alcohol and right of way violation[6].

Whatever your age, you’re legally required to inform the DVLA if you have a medical condition or disability that could affect your driving ability. If you don’t, you risk being prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident and fined up to £1,000. Letting the DVLA know won’t necessarily mean that you have to give up driving, but it may do. The medical conditions you need to report include[7]:

  • Dementia
  • Insulin-treated diabetes
  • Parkinson’s
  • Strokes
  • Other neurological and mental health conditions
  • Physical disabilities
  • Visual impairments

For an extensive list of all of the medical conditions the DVLA want to know about, please click here >

If your doctor says that you won’t be able to drive for three months or more because of your medical condition, you will need to surrender your licence and reapply once you’re deemed fit.

What do I have to do if I’m an older driver?

Once you reach seventy you must self-certify and renew your driving licence every three years. The DVLA will send you a D46P application form three months before your 70th birthday.

It’s important that you act and don’t let your licence lapse, or you won’t be able to drive legally. If you’re going to be driving, you’ll still require car insurance and you should only get behind the wheel of a car if you feel fit and able to do so. When in doubt, don’t drive.

The DVLA currently has no plans to make older drivers attend compulsory refresher courses or resit their driving tests. However, some local authorities do offer refresher courses for older drivers. The uptake in many areas has been slow, with drivers worried that they’ll have to pass a test as part of the course.

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