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Re-test fears for older drivers

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 14, 2012

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Pensioners' groups have warned against mandatory re-testing of older motorists saying it could lead to greater "isolation" of the elderly.

A report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety said a national strategy for an ageing car-driving population was vital, given the significant rise in the number of older motorists now holding driving licences.

The Whitehall advisory body urged a review of the current self-declaration system for the over 70s, raising the spectre of a stricter new system and possible mandatory re-testing.

But pensioners' groups said such moves were unnecessary and not supported by evidence. Bob Drabwell, chairman of Cornwall Senior Citizens' Forum, said: "I can't see there's a need for new legislation beyond what we already have.

"There are enough laws and legislation already and we don't need to pile it on any further.

"If people do get too old and doddery then I think they recognise that fact and pack up.

"By and large older people are pretty careful drivers and they have plenty of experience behind the wheel.

"It is not older people who are speeding around, it tends to be the younger drivers who seem to have a point to prove."

Mr Drabwell, 77, who lives at Pool, near Redruth, said many older people were giving up their cars because of the cost of motoring but that forcing people out of their cars in rural areas like the Westcountry could leave people more vulnerable.

"The transport system is slowly getting worse and worse," he added. "Many older people rely on their cars. We need to make life easier for elderly people, not harder. We don't want to drive people into isolation."

Drivers over the age of 70 currently have to fill in the self-declaration section of the licence renewal form every three years.

But the PACTS report said the "effectiveness of self-regulation should be the subject of a study, assessing the link between self-regulation and crash risk". It said: "Self-regulation should not be relied upon as a method to ensure older drivers are safer until there is sufficient research that will allow the provision of evidence-led guidance and information.

"If during the assessment stage ability is found to be deficient, it could be improved through training, both in class and on the road."

Albert Venison, the president of the Devon Pensioners Action Forum, said he had stopped driving full-time two years ago on health grounds.

"We don't need a mandatory system," the 86-year-old said. "There are lots of elderly people who are quite capable of driving. The onus is on the person concerned to make their own mind up if they carry on or not."

He warned that additional restrictions would only "create jobs for the boys" while many able drivers would give up their cars early rather than face the bureaucracy.

The PACTS report highlighted the increase in the number of older drivers saying that while 15% of over 70s held a driving licence in 1975, the figure for 2010 was nearly 60%. Also, 80% of current 60-69-year-olds hold licences and will continue to drive for around the next 20 years. More than 80% of 30-39-year-olds are licence holders and will drive until at least 2050.

It said: "The report therefore concludes that older road users are here to stay and that a national strategy for an ageing population is vital."

It also outlined how reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads have fallen far more slowly among older drivers.

The car-occupant death and serious injury reduction for all ages between 2000 and 2010 was 54%. But the fall for 60-69-year-old car occupants was only 44%, with the decline for those aged 80 or over was only 16%.

The report also drew the distinction between road users who were at risk and who posed a risk to others. Older road users tended to be in the former group.

It was therefore essential, the report added, that planning decisions were "health-checked" for older people and that the medical profession was more effective in giving advice on both physical and mental fitness to drive.

PACTS executive director Robert Gifford said: "Over the next decade the balance of the population in this country will change. Older people need to be kept mobile and safe.

"I hope that this report will generate a national discussion about the state of our pavements and the relevance of self-regulation when it comes to giving up your driving licence.

"We need to move beyond seeing older people as a problem to viewing them as contributing to a mixed society."

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  • DipStick  |  November 11 2013, 11:36AM

    Mandatory re-testing, say every 5 or 10 years, should be on the cards for everyone, not just the elderly! DS

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  • Cantlos  |  May 24 2012, 11:25AM

    You will probably find that the majority of elderly drivers - despite their years on the roads - have never had an accident. This is reflected in the low cost of insurance. Check the statistics - how many accidents are caused by elderly drivers and how many by young drivers. Remember to also take in the amount of damage and loss of life. You will find that accidents involving elderly drivers are low in damage whereas young drivers are far more likely to cause a great deal of damage and death. This also is reflected by the insurance premiums.

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  • Incredulous2  |  March 21 2012, 9:09PM

    :-)

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  • Charlespk  |  March 21 2012, 8:50PM

    @Incredulous2 Incredulous2 I have not been abusive to ANY commentators. I am never abusive to any commentators, but I occasionally respond when people with little obvious intelligence attack me. You have previously overstepped what is permitted, and are doing so again now. If you do not withdraw your offensive remarks I WILL be reporting you. I abide by the House rules not by what you want me to say. The people missing from here are those elderly being constantly defamed by people like yourself who do not have, or wish to have access to a computer.

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  • sparro  |  March 21 2012, 7:45PM

    Spot on 2Ladybugs, No one can understand & keep`s on about a full retest, which would be stupid & impossible. Well done to you for pointing out the FACTS

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  • 2ladybugs  |  March 21 2012, 7:01PM

    I understand the actual statement from PACT was: "PACT are recommending that elderly drivers are sent on special training courses to ensure they are still safe to drive. This would happen if the driver had an accident or was seen to be driving dangerously by a policeman." PACT also said "We need to move beyond seeing older people as a problem to viewing them as contributing to a mixed society." A sight/medical check-up was also recommended.

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  • Exeter Language School (ExLS)  |  March 21 2012, 6:39PM

    I dont think we should retest anybody, it would just turn into a money making government scam... look at this link http://tinyurl.com/7czm7fy

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  • Charlespk  |  March 21 2012, 6:29PM

    I think every 10 years is just as 'arbitrary' Sinjis_Things. . You don't 'forget' how to drive, and experience gives you a greater ability to read the road and just makes you safer. There are drivers who do need checking in all age groups, but arbitrary re-testing makes no sense at all and would just be expensive and inconvenient for anyone. Arthur Duckett was still driving 40,000 miles every year in an HGV at age 80 and he didn't need glasses. What we are talking about here is just a health check as we get older surely? http://tinyurl.com/4yde8vw

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  • Sinjis_Things  |  March 21 2012, 5:42PM

    It has been suggested that when a driver reaches the age of 70 they should have to take their test again to make sure they are able to drive. How stupid! Looking at the way some people drive. especially youngsters, EVERYONE should have to retake their test every 10 years.

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  • M_Lambert  |  March 21 2012, 5:29PM

    Ha ha ha it looks like Charlespk is taking this as a personal attack........... I'm not sure how you think that insulting us will do anything to change our opinions of some of the elderly drivers that wont be able to drive after their re-tests !!!! You say that the elderly are better and safer drivers because they can knit and bake cakes !?!?! Ha ha ha ha what a load of feeble rubbish............... I suppose that you disagree with the MOT for vehicles ?? ( If a vehicle is deemed unsafe as it gets older then it needs to be put right or condemned ). Guess what it's going to happen to people as well............ I can't wait for people like you to have to take the mandatory retest and lose your licence. If you drive a motor vehicle in the same way you spout this infernal rubbish then god help the other poor drivers near your area. So keep insulting people and quoting your facts and figures at us, you will lose out in the end and we'll be the ones driving around in a safer environment. I can't wait !!!!!

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