Late in August the government launched a consultation on the current process for elderly drivers renewing their licences. At present drivers keep their licences until they are 70 and then have to prove that they are medically fit to drive. The consultation is looking at extending the age limit to 75. Some road safety groups and individuals do not agree with raising the age of licence renewal.
Raising age of licence renewal
Currently, there are six million people over 70 who hold a UK driving licence. Some of these people may of course no longer be driving and just maintain their licence as a form of ID. There are believed to be 230 drivers in the UK aged over 100. Drivers over 70 must state that they are fit every three years but there is no requirement to undertake medical or driving tests to uphold their declaration.
This has really split public and expert opinion alike. Many people think that this is a good idea as we are all living longer and there are more healthcare treatments and options out there which maintain good health for longer. The advent of driverless, connected cars could soon mean that good health, excellent driving skills and abilities are no longer necessary in the future. The car would just need to know its current position and the destination. Elderly drivers are loathe to give up their independence by admitting that they are no longer fit to drive.
The RAC in conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory recently stated that 10% of motorists over 70 are unfit to drive. Some people might argue that older drivers have more experience and therefore better judgement on the roads. Other people might say their reflexes and responses are slower due to old age. Statistically, the figures are in the elderly’s favour as the evidence states that young male drivers are more lethal. For instance, one in four 18-24 year olds (23%) crash within two years of passing their driving test. Insurance premiums for older drivers are much lower than those for young drivers. Elderly people can be more cautious, some won’t drive on A roads, motorways, dual carriageways or at night.
Why is this change happening? Some industry figures are claiming that the DVLA is only doing this because they are swamped by the paperwork. In 2014 almost 60% of people over 70 were still driving an increase of 15% from 1975. Digitalising the whole process may be one answer but the DVLA’s volumes are huge; they deal with 1.4 million medically related mail items each year alone. It seems that it is the DVLA pushing to increase the age limit.
Last year, Mary Reilly, a non executive director at the Department for Transport was asked by the government to write a review on the DVLA to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. She stated that raising the renewal age would have little impact on road safety and would help to ease the pressure on the DVLA. Several European countries such as France, Germany and Sweden have no renewal required. Other countries require renewals at the age of 70. So renewing at 75 would be a balance between the two European practices. What do you think? Should the renewal age be increased?