RAC Cars News


Younger Drivers Don't Trust Over 65s Behind The Wheel

By raccars Published

A recent survey suggests that most people think older motorists should be re-tested from age 66 onwards. Of 3,763 participants, the survey showed that 73% have doubts about the competency of older drivers behind the wheel.

Over 60% of survey respondents would like older drivers to undergo eyesight and co-ordination testing on a regular basis, with more than 25% claiming to feel unsafe as a passenger in a car being driven by a motorist over 65 years of age. The concerns were particularly strongly expressed by younger survey participants.

However, according to Department for Transport figures, motorists over the age of 65 are safer behind the wheel than their younger counterparts. With 9% of the total driving population aged 70 or over, only 6% of total driver casualties were from the older age group, suggesting a minority of older motorists are letting the side down for the majority. The same statistics show that the under-30s make up only 20% of the driving population, but the same group makes up 35% of driver casualties.

There are currently optional courses and driving skill assessment programmes for older drivers who may be concerned about their ability on the road, but legally, drivers are not obliged to re-test. Other surveys have suggested that older drivers exhibit better on road manners than younger motorists. As an example, 21% of motorists under the age of 65 have admitted to using a mobile phone while driving, in contrast to only 7% of drivers over 65. Similarly, 20% of drivers under 65 have admitted to searching the glovebox while behind the wheel, compared to only 10% of over 65s.

The image of older drivers as nervous and hesitant at the wheel has also been contradicted by the research, with only 29% of over 65s expressing uncertainty or worry in heavy traffic, while 31% of younger drivers were less confident. Moreover, older motorists apparently benefit from a tendency to undergo more regular sight tests than the rest of the population.

Age concern organisations have expressed concern that damage to older drivers' reputations could affect their ability to obtain affordable insurance premiums, pointing out that many older people rely on their cars to be able to live independently. They claim that over 65s would benefit from extra support and training or even special driving adaptations, rather than re-tests, to ensure their continued driving careers.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars