Older drivers put their foot down over ‘retest’ costs

Older drivers agree they need to change up a gear to keep up with the demands of modern motoring, but are not prepared to pay the price.

A recent survey has revealed that more than eight out of ten (84%) of drivers aged 70 or over acknowledge the value in a refresher driving course, and that 69% of all motorists support compulsory medical checks at age 70 and above.

With the number of older drivers set to more than double to over six million in the next 20 years, the 2010 RAC Report on Motoring urges that the driving needs of older motorists must be reviewed to meet the demands and concerns of all road users.

Meanwhile, over 50s specialist insurer Saga disagrees; the group says drivers older than 50 have around a third fewer claims than younger drivers. 

“While it is true that people in their 70s, 80s and 90s have more accidents per mile, they drive far fewer miles and they tend to adapt their driving to the conditions.  As a result claims are more typically for low speed and manoeuvring prangs,” said a Saga spokesman.

Saga believes retesting people’s ability to drive is less about age and more about attitude and ability that should be tested periodically.

These opinions seem to be at odds with the RAC survey, which says a third of all motorists believe the current system should remain unchanged, compared with 68% of drivers over 70.  Under current rules motorists must get their driving licence renewed with a self-declaration of fitness to drive at 70 years old.

While 69% think there should be compulsory medical checks, and 61% of motorists think there should be compulsory driving evaluations at age 70. This contrasts with the views of motorists over the age of 70, who are not so keen on any checks that might restrict independence and mobility.  Only 34% are in favour of compulsory medical checks, and only 22% support compulsory driving evaluations.

Three quarters of over 70s motorists disagree with imposing a maximum age limit for driving – compared to half of all motorists.

The RAC’s David Bizley said: “The government must consider the impact on motoring of our ageing population as part of its wider strategy for dealing with the retirement of the baby boomers… Motorists of all ages clearly believe in the value of refresher courses to improve old skills and learn new ones. Reviewing this now will save considerable pain in the future and continue the journey towards safer roads for everyone.”

With drivers over 70 on fixed pension income, the cost of refreshing driving skills is an issue. More than a third of older drivers (38%) say they would not pay for a refresher course, and on average they would be prepared to pay £23.00….which is significantly less than the £62.00 charged for a standard driving test.

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