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Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

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Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 26.07.15 6:44


http://www.insure4retirement.co.uk/do-elderly-drivers-need-to-take-retests/

It’s a debate that’s raged for years. Every now and then it rears its head in the mainstream media: should elderly drivers be made to take a re-test? According to surveys and research, a whopping 85% of Brits believe that older drivers should.

However, can it really be that simple? Should government pass legislation stating that anyone over a certain age should have to take re-test? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.


The case for a re-test

A few years ago Stirling Moss announced that he believed older drivers should be re-evaluated; effectively meaning that those over a certain age would need to take another driving test, to prove they are still fit to drive on the roads.
There have been a few instances where elderly drivers have caused accidents, sometimes unfortunately fatal. Whether it’s as a result of ill health or a loss in concentration, there can be little doubt that elderly drivers, when suffering from conditions which will affect their focus and reaction times, are at more risk of causing traffic accidents. However, doesn’t each case have to be judged on its own merits? It would be a huge generalisation to suggest that all drivers over the age of 50, 60 or 70 should be retested – after all, everyone is different.
This argument has since been reaffirmed by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). They suggest that those elderly drivers who are caught speeding and break other traffic offences should be made to pass a special training course, to prove they are still safe behind the wheel. This will avoid any such ambiguity over who actually needs to retake their test. It also takes away the indignity of Joe Bloggs having to take a trip down to the DVLA on his 50th birthday to re-take his driving test.

The case for self-regulation

For most drivers, the act of self-regulation has been a common way to establish whether or not that you, yourself, are fit to be driving on the roads. For example, if you no longer feel comfortable driving on motorways, you would plan a route taking you along A and B roads instead. The same could be said of elderly people that dislike driving at night, in which case you would only drive your car during the day.
Self-regulation ultimately gives older drivers their independence to socialise and retains their freedom. Taking away their licences will not guarantee safer roads, as Dr. Craig Berry, the head of policy at the International Longevity Centre-UK suggests.

Another suggestion is for elderly drivers to have regular health checks with their GPs. Eye tests and flexibility tests from a health professional may go a long way to ensure that each individual is in fact safe to get behind the wheel. However, this has been met with fierce opposition in some quarters who suggest that it is not the decision of a GP to take away an elderly person’s freedom to drive. In addition, it will raise questions over who breaks the news to an older driver that they can no longer drive, the GP or a family member?

So should we put the brake on elderly drivers?

As you can see, the issue over re-tests for elderly drivers is certainly a sensitive one. Ultimately, the problem boils down to who has the right to tell an older driver that they can no longer drive. Do we have to wait until any sort of damage or traffic offence has occurred before making older drivers ‘retrain’? Or do we allow the government and the DVLA to say that when you’re 50, 60 or 70 that you have to take a re-test? Then of course there’s the issue of expense; and, as everyone knows, learning to drive isn’t cheap, especially not for those who are retired and living off basic state pensions.

It’s an on-going debate, and one that’s sure to continue. But what do you think? Do you believe elderly drivers should be re-tested and if so, at what age? Are you against any form of government intervention? Should re-testing only be required when there is medical cause for doing so?

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by tigger on 27.07.15 10:36

We would need to produce statistics on the number of accidents caused by different age-groups.

Afaik at present it is the youngest age group which causes most accidents.

A  two- or three yearly test regarding eyesight and hearing might be of use, but to make anyone of any age retake a complete driving test complete with random questions from the Highway Code would be disastrous for nearly everybody, regardless of their age.

I don't think anyone of  around forty would be happy to retake the test and many people well under fifty would probably fail a re-test.

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by Angelique on 27.07.15 12:18

I agree with "tigger" that all age groups can cause accidents, speed, or disregard the Highway Code. 

I would advise the only way round this is to re-test all groups, yearly, two yearly, whatever.

But this still will not make drivers adhere to the Highway Code.

I have time and again thought of buying the Highway Code in bulk so that I could hand them out to drivers who behave like idiots on the road. 

It should not the norm that you have to drive and "think for the other drivers" on the road. Yes, you have to be aware that they are there but it becomes tedious in the extreme when you are performing emergency stops on a daily basis because of other drivers.

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 27.07.15 12:25

@Angelique wrote:I agree with "tigger" that all age groups can cause accidents, speed, or disregard the Highway Code. 

I would advise the only way round this is to re-test all groups, yearly, two yearly, whatever.

But this still will not make drivers adhere to the Highway Code.

I have time and again thought of buying the Highway Code in bulk so that I could hand them out to drivers who behave like idiots on the road. 

It should not the norm that you have to drive and "think for the other drivers" on the road. Yes, you have to be aware that they are there but it becomes tedious in the extreme when you are performing emergency stops on a daily basis because of other drivers.
I was on a lesson with a pupil a few months ago and we were positioned to turn right in a box junction while we waited for a gap in the oncoming traffic and the woman in the junction we were going to turn in to pulled out and blocked us and got out of her car and started shouting at me for allowing a pupil to stop in a box junction Rolling Eyes

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by tigger on 27.07.15 12:44

One habit I have noticed with a few elderly drivers of my acquaintance: they're far too close to the steering wheel. No time or space to react quickly. 
I don't know how anyone can drive with the steering wheel nearly pressed up against their chest, it's very dangerous.

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by Verdi on 27.07.15 14:59

@tigger wrote:We would need to produce statistics on the number of accidents caused by different age-groups.

Afaik at present it is the youngest age group which causes most accidents.

A  two- or three yearly test regarding eyesight and hearing might be of use, but to make anyone of any age retake a complete driving test complete with random questions from the Highway Code would be disastrous for nearly everybody, regardless of their age.

I don't think anyone of  around forty would be happy to retake the test and many people well under fifty would probably fail a re-test.
Absolutely useless until your average motorist takes the lumps of plastic from it's ears (and I'm not referring to hearing aids) and blacked-out car windows are totally banned!  I've witnessed some atrocious drivers that would fall into the elderly bracket but I rather suspect they've never been very good at it, as can be demonstrated by a lot of younger drivers.  Some people are just not meant to drive!

As an aside I saw something earlier today which astounded to say the least.  A family outing, man cruising along on one of those 50cc two wheeled things, front of him was placed a young child (about two'ish), behind was slightly older child and then at the back woman - presumably mother.  Worst of it being the two adults were wearing crash helmets but the kids weren't !!!  Nowt like folk.

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Re: Elderly drivers - do they need to take retests?

Post by aquila on 28.07.15 19:59

As far as I'm aware in UK you can learn to drive at 17 years of age. You learn to pass your test. There is no compulsory addition to learning 'road-craft'. Nope, you can pass your test and once that pass certificate is in your hands you can go drive on the motorways. It was the same when I was young and it hasn't changed much (apart from the Highway Code test).

Yep, you can still be 17 and if you have the money to learn you can be handed  a loaded gun within minutes of saying bye-bye to your driving instructor with a pass certificate in your hand and being in sole charge of a vehicle with no-one to assist you. It's daunting for the majority of newly qualified drivers to do that no matter what the age.

Things aren't helped by powerful engines where it's difficult to maintain 30mph.

Road-craft is the key. Road courtesy and politeness to other drivers and pedestrians needs to be hammered home IMO. Driving instructors teach all this stuff but once a pupil has passed their test there is no legal requirement to learn more.

As for age, what the devil has that got to do with anything? (unless you are an insurance company). There are careful drivers of all ages.

Having your eyesight tested is mandatory. Why wouldn't it be?

I've heard enough of the ageist 'sad old buggers need to get off our roads in case they croak it'

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